Today, 12 May 2020, the world celebrates International Day of Nurses.
The purpose of this day is to celebrate the achievements and continued sacrifice and contributions of great men and women – the unsung heroes in our medical fraternity.
The appreciation for the role that nurse’s play is not always as forthcoming as it is in the case with medical doctors. However, our nurses are central to the wellbeing of our people, and contribute immensely in building strong and healthy communities in all of South Africa.
A prosperous nation puts the advancement of core medical staff, such as nurses, at the forefront of its development programmes. This pandemic has shown that it is imperative that we make strides to retain our nurses. We can do so if we pay them properly, and also afford them access to free education opportunities that would allow them to advance their skills and careers.
The ACDP is disappointed that many capable and hardworking nurses that work in our government healthcare facilities, who are employed by agencies, have had their contracts suspended, and are sitting at home as a result of the lockdown. This, while government has forked out some R400 million to import Cuban doctors. Where government can, it must seek to permanently employ these nurses. R400m would have gone a long way in permanently employing South African nurses and doctors who have the necessary qualifications and experience but are unemployed.
Even with the arrival of the Cuban health workers, nurses who are permanently employed by government are not coping with the added pressure this health pandemic has brought to our shores. This is a gap that could have been filled by permanently employing nurses, who are in the employ of agencies, who work in government healthcare facilities on a contractual basis.
The ACDP salutes our unsung heroes: the men and women who keep things going under the most difficult circumstances. We also extend our deepest sympathy and condolences to the families of those courageous health workers who have battled on the frontlines throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, and who sadly contracted the virus and have fallen while saving lives.
Here’s to the front-liners who keep marching forward!