Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday highlighted the need to improve working conditions for nurses in South Africa.
“We must find lasting solutions to safety risks‚ severe shortages of staff‚ long hours of work and low morale‚ which impact not only on our nurses‚ but also on the quality of care patients ultimately receive‚” the deputy president said.
The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) is celebrating its 20th anniversary‚ on the day former president Nelson Mandela passed away three years ago. The organisation was launched by Mandela 20 years ago at the Union Buildings in Pretoria‚ where the celebratory event took place.
Ramaphosa said that on that day in 1996‚ Mandela lauded the launch of Denosa as a turning point the country’s nursing profession.
“Until then‚ nursing in this country had been largely defined by the racial divisions of our past. We celebrate with Denosa that together we have done away with race-based nursing organisations.
“Working together we have transformed an unequal‚ fragmented public health system into an inclusive‚ integrated and comprehensive national service.”
Denosa members from the country’s nine provinces gathered for the celebration‚ where a wreath laying ceremony took place to pay tribute to Mandela.
Ramaphosa thanked the nurses present for their work‚ crediting them with the dramatic reduction in mother-to-child HIV transmission in the country.
“We must recognise South African nurses as critical agents in the restoration of the dignity of our people.
“You work to relieve suffering and rekindle hope … In many ways‚ you are also miracle workers. You give our people hope for a life beyond ailment‚ injury and suffering.”
Denosa members were also addressed by Deputy Health Minister Joe Phaahla‚ who also reflected on the legacy of Mandela.
“You could not have been founded on a more important day‚ the day on which he departed. As we remember Madiba we should also be remembering the values by which Madiba lived‚” he told the nurses.
Phaahla said these values included reconciliation‚ integrity‚ humility‚ honesty and serving the people selflessly.