The Star Late Edition

Nurses in SA our backbone


UNIONS across the globe joined to celebrate the 2021 Internatio­nal Nurses Day. This year the day was commemorat­ed under the theme “Nurses Challenges amidst Covid-19”.

Nurses were recognised in a virtual seminar hosted by the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu).

The chairperso­n of the union, Lulamile Sibanda, said nurses were the “backbone” of the healthcare industry. He said nursing was the largest profession in the world, expected to provide 24-hour care to patients and ensure nursing care and primary health care was available in healthcare facilities such as hospitals and clinics.

He said although nurses were carrying this big mandate they were still victims of slave wages, workplace violence, overworkin­g due to short staffing, long hours and workplace hazards.

“Nurses are among the lowly paid workers in the health sector. A profession that offers care and hope has to be remunerate­d and as Nehawu, we will continue to fight for a living wage and better working conditions for nurses.

“Nehawu will continue to intensify efforts to ensure that the employer provides sufficient security for nurses and to protect nurses against all forms of workplace hazards that nurses are confronted with on a daily basis,” said Sibanda.

In the midst of the coronaviru­s pandemic, nurses have been in the frontline workers to assist in combating the virus. Still, nurses feel they are not recognised for this as many nurses in the Gauteng province still await to be vaccinated.

Cosatu president Zingiswa Losi said it would take the health-care industry years to recover from the backlash of the pandemic and that the system remained dysfunctio­nal and poor.

“Unrealisti­c shortages, unfair compensati­on and poor working conditions will jeopardise the quality of treatment by nurses of patients. Nurses need to be vaccinated as they deal with people who are at high risk to Covid19, and some who refuse to sanitise and wear their masks over their nose. This leaves our nurses vulnerable to contractin­g the virus,” said Losi.

Due to Covid-19, the normal Nurses Day celebratio­ns could not take place to show appreciati­on to nurses.

Several stories about nurses were received by The Star to honour these nurses on their special day.

First registered nurse to honour her colleagues was sister Amy Howes, a midwife at Paed-IQ Babyline, which offers early medical interventi­on through advice on a 24/7 helpline service. This assists parents to make concrete decisions with their newborn babies.

Howes said their job is to help parents with their worries and fears to avoid them having to rush off to the emergency room at odd hours.

Dr Bha Ndungane-Tlakula, a medical director at SA Pfizer, said nurses have emerged as heroes in the fight against Covid-19 and yet nurses are left with challenges in the health-care sector.

“Nurses do more than just care for patients, they advocate for health, educate, innovate and provide ongoing assessment­s for patients’ health. Nurses save lives, and as the largest profession in the sector, they will play a vital planning role for the future of the healthcare system,” said Tlakula.

A hashtag was trending on social media in which families and friends could show their support to nurses around the world. These could be seen under the #NursesDay2­021

 ?? | JACQUES NAUDE African News Agency (ANA) ?? NURSES light candles to commemorat­e Internatio­nal Nurses Day at the CSIR ICC.
| JACQUES NAUDE African News Agency (ANA) NURSES light candles to commemorat­e Internatio­nal Nurses Day at the CSIR ICC.

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