Original Research

Community health workers lensed through a South African backdrop of two peri-urban communities in KwaZulu-Natal

Meghan S. White, Pragashnie Govender, Helga E. Lister
African Journal of Disability | Vol 6 | a294 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajod.v6i0.294 | © 2017 Meghan S. White, Pragashnie Govender, Helga E. Lister | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 10 June 2016 | Published: 29 August 2017

About the author(s)

Meghan S. White, Department of Health, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Pragashnie Govender, School of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Helga E. Lister, School of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa


Background: As the South African government re-engineers primary healthcare (PHC), the need for additional information on stakeholders involved in the process has emerged. Of these are community health workers (CHWs), who have been identified as central to PHC success.
Objectives: To profile the current CHWs within KwaDabeka and Clermont in KwaZulu-Natal, to describe their roles and to explore the barriers and enablers influencing their service delivery.
Method: A convergent mixed methods design was employed with a sample of CHWs with the use of a survey (n = 53) and two focus groups (n = 10) and semi-structured interviews with four ward councillors (n = 4). Data were analysed statistically and thematically.
Results: The profile of CHWs reflected only women with a mixed age range and a majority of 59% who had not completed formal schooling. General work experience as a CHW varied. There were diverse opinions expressed towards the CHW role which related to their job title and identity, supervision, remuneration, growth pathways and psychological and emotional issues. Whilst the National Community Health Worker Profile Framework was established for the CHW programme, there are several factors lacking in the current CHW programme such as a formal growth pathway or formal training to align the CHWs with the National Qualifications Framework.
Conclusion: The study findings are essential for the monitoring and evaluation as well as development and refinement of policies that will assist in ensuring adequate rollout of PHC with CHWs.




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