HIV-Aids workers warn of go-slow

SCORES of Limpopo HIV-Aids counsellors are threatening to abandon their work because they have not been paid after government withheld more than R5million in funding.

SCORES of Limpopo HIV-Aids counsellors are threatening to abandon their work because they have not been paid after government withheld more than R5million in funding.

The funding has allegedly been withheld after the department of health and social development demanded audited financial statements from organisations it funded before it released more funds.

As a result welfare organisations dealing with people infected and affected by HIV-Aids were failing to pay their workers.

Spokesperson for the department, Roleta Lebelo, yesterday said they had decided to withhold more than R5million in funding because they were not satisfied with the financial compliance of some of the organisations.

Sowetan has learnt that some of the HIV-Aids foot-soldiers working for Takalani Home-based Care had been working without pay as the organisation was still waiting for funding.

"We have engaged the organisations on the challenges and problems facing them.

"Some of the problems we picked up were that they did not complete their forms as required while others had failed to submit audited financial statements," she said.

The delays in the funding, according to officials who worked in clinics and hospitals, had demoralised some counsellors on the ground.

A councillor for one of the organisations told Sowetan that they were threatening to down tools because of they were not paid.

"It is demoralising because during the first month we had accepted non-payment as an error.

"Most of us have families with responsibilities and cannot use our reserves to come to work not knowing when we will be paid," he said.

Most of the counsellors were helping to counsel patients and conduct tests on pregnant women in the province's clinics and hospitals.

Now some of the health workers said they were going to embark on a go-slow while others said they will not go to work.

Most of the affected counsellors offer voluntary counselling and testing to more than 200 clinics and hospitals as part of the department's partnership agreement in a bid to curb the spread of HIV-Aids.

Health workers said the spread of Aids was a grave concern in most parts of the province where patients still missed opportunities to access antiretrovirals.

Lebelo, however, said plans were under way to speed up the process so that funds could be released.

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