The Star Late Edition
Nurses voice concern over disruptions
In honour of our angels
NURSES with Candles of Light to commemorate International Nurses Day at the CSIR ICC in Tshwane yesterday.
THE Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa) has called on the government to address the severe disruptions to the country’s health-care system as the world commemorates International Nurses Day.
Yesterday marked International Nurses Day (IND), a day observed around the world to mark the contributions nurses make to society.
As the country celebrated IND, Denosa called on the South African government to deliver a clear strategy to address the “gradual disruption” that Covid-19 is causing in the country’s health-care system.
“At the core of this disruption in the health-care service is the under-utilisation of nursing skills and experience at the high, decision-making echelons of many countries’ healthcare systems, despite the reality that health-care systems globally are driven by a majority of health-care professionals, nurses,” the union said yesterday.
Denosa said this warning came from the Survey Report for January 2021 by the International Council of Nurses (ICN). The report revealed that just under 40% of the 105 countries surveyed, including South Africa, found that specialised nurses in infection, prevention and control are less involved in decision-making teams, with only 44% of countries indicating their involvement.
The union said the report also found that Covid-19 had resulted in severe disruptions of health-care services in various critical areas, including a 70% reduction in community routine vaccination; a 55% reduction in cancer diagnosis and treatment; and 28 million routine surgeries being cancelled.
“Denosa is concerned that South Africa’s picture is no different to the findings of the ICN Report, and that the country is sitting on a ticking timebomb as the effects of these reductions will further compound and worsen to a point where health-care services won’t be able to respond adequately,” the union said.
Denosa said the Survey Report recommended that building up a nurse-led model of care, including the involvement of Chief Nursing Officers and experienced specialist nurses, would bring about universal health coverage.
The report also recommended that maintaining adequate levels of nursing staff and supporting facilities with sufficient resources would solve about half the battle because nurses account for 80% of contact between patients and health-care professionals.
“Denosa believes that South Africa can learn greatly from these recommendations as it is currently in the red zone. Instead of expanding its healthcare staffing with nurses, it is cutting it down further,” the union said.
Denosa added that South Africa was in a better position to be able to change its “dangerous route”.
“There are still qualified, young nurses willing to work in South Africa, but they are at home without jobs. There are nurses who have recently qualified after completing their community service who could be absorbed,” the union said, but added that the failure to follow these recommendations would prove the country had abandoned the National Health Insurance ideal as South Africa’s form of Universal Health Coverage.