International Nurses Day 12 May
12 May marks International Nurses Day, and on this day the Joe Slovo Foundation pays tribute to the hardworking and selfless nurses in South Africa for the great work that they are putting into nursing the many community members who are affected by COVID-19 to full health and out of hospital beds.
Almost 50% of people who were infected with COVID-19, which has become the world’s dangerous and invisible enemy, has since recovered and the pandemic has underlined the great contribution and quality of care that South African nurses are capable of providing to citizens. And they still have the potential to become even more effective if they were to be supported by the government and various employers.
The sterling work of South African nurses has lived up to the theme of this year: “Nurses: A voice to Lead – Nursing the world to health”. This theme could not have been more prophetic as nurses have been at the forefront of pushing back the frontiers of this virus from our communities. For this, we celebrate all nurses in South Africa and worldwide and commend them for the great work they continue to put in despite the many challenges that they are faced with in the workplace.
Some of the ongoing challenges that nurses have faced with from time immemorial include the dwindling production numbers of nurses and employment thereof in health facilities. The World Health Organization, in its World State of Nursing Report released on 9 April this year, revealed the precariously high rate of the shortage of nurses in the developing countries and has recommended that, as a solution to this problem, every country must increase its production of nurses by at least 8% annually until 2030.
That there is no staff retention strategy in place by the South African government for the nursing workforce, also, is an ongoing risk that threatens the turn-over and stability of the nursing workforce and their potential to make a greater impact on nursing care for the South African community. The outbreak of COVID-19 has become a serious test to the resilience of the South African healthcare – provincial departments have had to scramble around for additional health workers to fill the gaping gap (although on a contract basis). The shortage has become a pushing factor for many healthcare workers to ply their trade overseas where there are staff retention plans in place.
Nurses in the country have arisen above these challenges, and have delivered health care service of good quality to South Africans at this hour of great need. It is now left to government and private sector employers to put in place plans that look after nurses’ great socio-economic needs so that they remain in the country’s healthcare system.
DENOSA the Nurses Union in South Africa believes South African nurses have authored their work with great skill and commitment, and they have lived up to this year as it is the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife as declared by the WHO, in collaboration with the International Council of Nurses (ICN).