Active Village Health Workers (VHW) around Vanuatu received their goodwill payment from the Government of Vanuatu, Friday last week.
An amount of Vt10 million went to active VHWs and this has been handed over last week.
Another Vt7 million will be paid by the government to retired village health workers around Vanuatu later next year.
Village Health Workers have been providing basic health care services in approximately 210 Aid Posts across the country over the last 35 to 40 years and they are doing this job without any wages.
For Rina Jimmy who looks after Malafao Aid Post in North of Efate this action taken by the government reflects a grateful act to VHWs around Vanuatu.
“We are greatly and deeply moved that we are now recognised by the government through our tremendous effort over the past years and decades to address the basic health needs in our communities,” she said.
Mrs Jimmy said that all the village health workers have the same social needs compared to those who are on the government payroll.
Shefa Province currently has 42 operating aid posts and is working at reopening another 3 soon and Shefa Provincial Government is the only province that continues to date to provide a monthly stipend to its serving VHWs.
Secretary General of Shefa province, Zachariah Daniel said since 2008 they provide stipend or allowances for only 10 VHW.
“We built up from ten VHW to forty five, and its a small amount of stipend that does not meet 100% their needs but when we have first aid that applies to a sick person we know that we will have a healthy population and Shefa province will continue support their VHW,” said Mr. Zachariah.
The Director General of Ministry of Health, George Taleo said VHW program is vital within the ministry of health because it is the frontline of health services throughout Vanuatu.
“This program started back in 1984. The Australian Government continues to date to support this program despite many challenges faced by the Vanuatu Government,” Taleo said.
He said a lot of requests have been received from VHW asking if it was possible for them to be included on the government payroll.
“Since i took this position as Director General of the Ministry of Health, i asked different ministers to give a special recognition to VHW program because it’s a backbone in supporting communities in terms of first aid,” Taleo said.
A village health worker not only provides first aid to their respective communities but also provide midwife service to pregnant women.
This goodwill payment is a national commitment made by the former Minister of Health, Jerome Ludvaune in January 2017.
This year this commitment was fulfilled with an approval of 17.5 million vatu by the national government to be paid to all current serving VHWs in all six provinces