A dedicated group of Warwick Triangle traders held their heads high last week after graduating with introductory first-aid courses that each acknowledged as the stepping stone for assisting anyone in need of medical help before the ambulance can arrive in the zone.

Nine distinct markets contribute to the vibrant economic Warwick Triangle hub, where an estimated R1 billion is traded annually and 8 000 traders earn their daily living.

Intervention by community organisations saw several representatives from each market undertake and qualify in basic-level first aid, and each zone receive an equipped first aid box to act as the first intervention between a patient and professional medical attention.

Celebrating their graduation last week, trader John Khomo said the training would enable the people working in Warwick to anticipate accidents and assist where possible while waiting for an ambulance.

"The training opened our eyes and gave us the knowledge of what to do in the case of injuries, including information on burns, wounds and bleeding and many people will be saved due to this training," said fellow trader Helena Gasela.

Guest speaker and University of KwaZulu-Natal professor Frances Lund said the link between work and health was critical and came into play both in happy and troubling times for families.

In working with the Warwick Triangle traders over the years, Lund said the university had established that a secure work environment, reliable income and the ability to be treated with respect were the key issues to which the traders wanted solutions.

Lund was also representing the international action research policy network Wiego as its South African social protection programme director. Wiego builds alliances with and draws its membership from informal workers, co-operatives, unions and associations, researchers and statisticians and professionals working for development agencies.

"Some health issues come from not treating ourselves with respect, but they can also be due to the risks taken in the market place that are not created by the trader. Essentially, traders have to remain sufficiently strong and healthy to continue earning the income that will feed their children and pay for their homes," she said.

Lund added that international research had shown that the better people were capable of working, the more opportunities arose to undertake different experiences - and in congratulating the graduate first aid volunteer, acknowledged them as strong leaders within their market communities.

"The next step will be working together to solve work-related health issues that will bring with it the real sense of celebration in looking forward for future achievements.

"Each graduate has shown their commitment by investing time and energy in this course and will now be in a strong position to negotiate for improving work conditions," she said.