Grow Great, a campaign committed to mobilising South Africa to halve stunting in young children by 2030, convened a diverse group of Community Health Care Workers on Friday in Diepsloot South to honour and acknowledge their invaluable contributions as everyday heroes.

In her opening remarks, Grow Great Executive Director Dr Edzani Mphaphuli stated, “The role of the community of healthcare workers plays a pivotal role in our society and helps us as Grow Great, in minimising stunting in children in South Africa and helping them reach their full potential”.

Community Health Workers (CHWs) are esteemed as community leaders and heroes, with many developing countries attributing their success in reducing stunting rates to the pivotal role played by CHWs in implementing effective stunting reduction strategies. Recognising that a child’s interaction with the healthcare system is limited to about 20 days during the first 1000 days of life, the inclusion of home-based interventions becomes crucial in the fight against stunting.

The Grow Great Champions Club serves as a hub and virtual resource centre for CHWs, offering:

• Access to a dedicated national information line, continuous mentorship, and resources to empower CHWs in providing sustained support to the families under their care.

• Training opportunities focused on the first 1000 days, emphasising child growth monitoring.

• Incentives to motivate CHWs to continue their exceptional work within their communities.

• A social network connecting CHWs nationwide, fostering peer recognition, friendly competition, and positive reinforcement.

Through the Grow Great Champions Club, Community Health Workers are equipped with the tools and support needed to further their impact and drive progress towards a future where child stunting is significantly reduced.

Bridgette Memela, a Community Health Worker from Diepkloof Clinic in Region D, Johannesburg, shared her heartfelt experience at the Grow Great Champions Community Health Worker Day. “It is great to be here today, celebrating each other and the important work that we do in our communities,” she expressed. Bridgette joined the program in April 2021 and expressed her joy at being present to celebrate the impactful work done in their communities. In 2023, she proudly held the title of the top Community Health Worker in the City of Johannesburg for Region D.

The event also welcomed veteran actor Lillian Dube, affectionately known as Sister Bettina from Soul City, as a guest speaker. Lillian shared insights into the issues plaguing society and how Soul City shaped her life. She continued to praise and recognise the work done by Community Health Care Workers from the time a child is born to when one becomes an elderly person. Lillian emphasised that the role of a Community Health Care Worker goes beyond their scope of work, which is why they should be celebrated every day.

The occasion was a testament to the dedication and impact of Community Health Workers in South Africa. Their tireless efforts in promoting the well-being of children and families within their communities deserve recognition and appreciation.