Farm worker project for better health is progressing swiftly

18 Aug 2022 in Where We Govern

The impact of partnerships for good health on farms is already visible, even though a project among farm communities has barely started. During a recent visit by the Western Cape Minister of Agriculture to Botha Kelder, area farm workers who are trained as community health workers proudly shared what they’ve learnt.

Ms. Katriena Vermeulen Smith is one of the 24 farm workers from the Breede Valley that has signed up for a course that lasts eight weeks in total, and says she cannot wait to share what she has learned. “I always thought health was just pills and glasses, but it’s much more. We also learn about finance and legislation. Why? Because if you don’t have finances, you can’t be otherwise healthy,” she told the minister. She realizes that if she previously had the knowledge she gained during the course that Philani offers, she could have made a difference a long time ago. “This is something big for me. The people are now calling me ‘Sister’. ”

Mrs. Heloise Joseph says the course was like a dream come true for her, because as a child she saw the impact of a stroke on her grandmother. She also wanted to help people like her grandmother one day. Others shared that they didn’t think they could do it, but that they kept going, and were doing better all the more. Others said the shared experience has brought farm communities closer together and they can now help each other.

The project to train farm workers as community health workers began when one of Western Cape Government Health partners saw the opportunity for healthier communities if people received further training. Community health workers are people equipped with the basic information about health conditions, who then share information in their residential areas and encourage people to avail services at the nearest clinic. They can also provide support to people who take chronic medication to make sure they complete treatment.

The non-governmental organisation NorSA, Western Cape Government Health in the Cape Wine Country, Botha & Slanghoek cellars as well as their producers, the wine industry body Vinpro, and others, have gathered heads about what everyone can offer to make this possible. The Western Cape Department of Agriculture was keen to be involved as humanity and wellbeing is one of their focus areas in repositioning Agriculture after COVID-19.

“Challenges are enormous, but when you have partnerships, you have an opportunity to address the problems. Who took a bath ? The farm worker using the service,” Minister Ivan Meyer said. Agriculture in the Cape Winery contributes 11% to the economy of the Western Cape. “How can you recover the economy if your workers are sick? When women look at their own health on a farm, they all change their outlook on health. “He emphasized to the group being trained that they play an important role in looking after other people’s health.

The Western Cape Government Department of Health thanks all the role players for their involvement in the project: from making farm workers available, to training and coordinating the project forward.

Enrolled community health workers will soon receive their certificates for completing the accredited course.

Role players agree that this is a good model that can be duplicated in other areas in the future.