By Rex Mphisa
MINISTRY of Health and Child Care workers assigned to do HIV/Aids work in Matabeleland South province are disgruntled over the non-disbursement of their incentive allowances from the Global Fund.
The workers deployed across the province’s health institutions are the only ones in the country still to receive the donor funded allowance paid in foreign currency.
Beneficiaries of the fund in all other provinces have received allowances paid to primary counsellors and data capture clerks and those in Matabeleland South feel shortchanged.
An official in the ministry identified as Alice Makore, who is responsible for administration of the fund at head office, referred the reporter to the province.
“You must not contact me in connection with that, but go back to the province,” said Makore when comment was sought.
“I must not even be talking to you because you must start at the lowest level,” she added before hanging up the phone.
According to the workers on the ground, earlier this year they were asked to open foreign currency accounts into which the allowance would be deposited.
Primary counsellors, whose role is interviewing HIV/Aids patients prior to both testing and administration of drugs, earn an allowance of about US$292.
Data capturing clerks who maintain records of afflicted persons earn about US$300 and they are deployed at health centres throughout the districts.
They also embark on outreach programmes to help eradicate the stigma around HIV and Aids as well as tuberculosis.
“We are discouraged and this also affects how we perform because it clearly means someone is sitting on our allowances. It would not surprise us to hear that the funds have vanished,” said one of the affected workers.
“We have been told different stories, but it is surprising that our colleagues in other provinces have been getting their allowances.”
The worker said with the obtaining economic hardships it defied logic how someone would be blind to such, they said.
“At the end of it all it’s the patients who bear the brunt because while we have been working well our performance will be half-hearted knowing someone could be benefitting from our sweat,” said the worker.