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Occupational Certificate: Health Promotion Officer

Photo by Polina Zimmerman:

Level: 3

SAQA ID: 94597 

Credits: 163


The purpose of this qualification is to prepare a learner to:

  • Carry out basic assessments of communities, households groups and individuals.

  • Provide basic health education and referrals for a wide range of services.

  • Support and assist in navigating the health and social services system.



The National Health Council has mandated an improvement in the health outcomes and for this to occur significant steps need to be taken in the restructuring of the health system. This is one of the 10 points in the five year Health Sector 10 Point Plan, noted as 'overhauling the healthcare system'. It is also the fourth pillar of the Negotiated Service Delivery Agreement as 'strengthening the effectiveness of the health system'. This qualification will form an integral part of this strategy. It will form the basis for the appointment requirements of the Community Health Workers that will be employed by the various government departments (currently an estimated number of approximately 70 000 people).

The caveat for the South African model should be built on the ward system that has been implemented in KwaZulu-Natal. Each ward should have one or more Primary Health Care (PHC) outreach teams. These teams are composed of a professional nurse, environmental health and health promotion practitioners as well as 4-5 community health workers who are expected to serve a population of approximately 7 660 people.

The model contains three streams:

  • Award based PHC outreach team for each electoral ward.

  • Strengthening school health services.

  • District based clinical specialist teams with an initial focus on improving maternal and child health.

    Evidence from many countries suggests that provision of home and community based health services and their links with the fixed PHC facilities in particular are critical to achieve good health outcomes, especially child health outcomes (Sepulveda et al, 2006). The role of community health workers in many countries has contributed to better health outcomes (WHO 2007).

    The roles of Community Health Workers (CHW) (as part of the PHC outreach teams) will include:

  • Conducting community, household and individual health assessments and identifying health needs and risks (actual and potential) and facilitating the family or an individual to seek the appropriate health service.

  • Promoting the health of the households and the individuals within these households.

  • Referring persons for further assessment and testing after performing simple basic screening.

  • Providing limited, simple health interventions in a household (e.g. basic first aid, oral rehydration and any other basic intervention that she or he is trained to provide).

  • Providing psychosocial support and managing interventions such as treatment defaulter tracing and adherence support.

    Given the key role that CHWs will play, they should, over time be directly managed by the Department of Health.
    Ideally each ward within the district should be covered with a PHC outreach team. There are 4,277 electoral wards in South Africa. The population sizes of wards are variable so to the geography and density of each ward. Urban wards are highly populated with high density whilst rural wards are sparsely populated and often with poor infrastructure. This means that ward populations may range from less than 1000 in some wards to more than 20 000 in others. This qualification will capacitate the Community Health Workers to fulfil their role in this revised structure. 

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