Health is a key concern for informal workers because ill-health often results in a loss of income. informal traders often work on street corners, pavements, and landfills. In their workplaces, they are exposed to many of the urban health hazards, including chemical pollutants, physical hazards, and poor urban infrastructure. There are also the ergonomic health hazards associated with work tools and processes, and which often take a significant toll on the musculoskeletal health of informal workers.
The protection of the health and well-being of workers in the informal economy is a challenge which needs to be faced with a coherent and integrated approach involving policies for occupational safety and health (OSH) and health promotion, skills development, social protection, and employment creation. For these reasons, the Durban University of Technology’s (DUT’s) Community Engagement Office, in partnership with the Health and Applied Sciences Faculties, developed a wellness programme for informal traders.
The purpose of the wellness programme for informal traders is to offer a caring environment where traders can gain support from a dedicated team of wellness practitioners and student volunteers representing various departments from DUT Health and Applied Sciences Faculties.
DUT recently hosted a wellness day for informal traders in Warwick Junction. The services offered on the day included basic health screening for blood pressure, sugar diabetics, BMI, and TB screening. Other services were Somatology and Chiropractic therapy.
The event was hosted in partnership with a local NGO Asiye eTafuleni a non-profit organisation, and the eThekwini Municipality through the office the iTrump ABM. Other partners were the Jes Foord Foundation, Durban and Coastal Mental Health, and Marie Stopes South Africa, offering advice on reproductive health, pregnancy prevention, and safe abortions.
The event was well supported by informal traders, students, and staff. Participants were asked to evaluate their experience and complete a survey indicating if they were happy with the services received. Some indicated that they would like eye testing and dental screenings at future events.
Professor Sibusiso Moyo-DVC Of Research, Innovation and Engagement, added that the wellness programme for informal traders is a first of its kind at DUT. “The programme forms part of the community engagement activity where the University is using its skills and facilities for the benefit of its local communities. The programme also creates a meaningful learning experience for the students. Students are valuable contributors to the development of community engagement and the utilisation of students during community engagement ensures academic transformation, as students are exposed to a variety of communities to ensure cross-cultural interaction and real-life societal enlightenment,” she said.
The event will be held on an annual basis, going forward.
Pictured: One of the informal traders receiving chiropractic treatment from a DUT student.