SOUTH African nurses have been hailed for being the backbone of the country's health-care system and for their contribution in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
The year 2020 has been dubbed significant for nurses, with Covid-19 shedding light on the crucial role they play in the face of extreme medical crises.
Country medical director at Pfizer South Africa Dr Bha Ndungane-Tlakula said the pandemic exposed weaknesses in global health care systems and nurses were hard hit.
“While the Covid-19 pandemic presented several challenges to the entire health care sector, nurses, in particular, were hard hit. This included the short supply of personal protective equipment (PPE), tedious 12-hour shifts, not being able to see family and, more importantly, the inability to mourn the loss of those close to them, including colleagues,” she said.
Ndungane-Tlakula said nurses were “heroes” of the pandemic and played a vital role in the future of the health-care system.
Among them, Sister Ingrid Wyngaard, who has been working at the Groote Schuur hospital for 28 years, said working as a nurse, during the pandemic, has been quite a journey.
“I work in ward E7 neurology, which involves a little bit of everything. We are here 12 hours a day and you can’t work in an environment where you are stressed or unhappy. That is what I tell my nurses: 'Whatever issues you have, before you step into the Groote Schuur building, you leave it at the door. We are here for our patients, who may be ill or scared, and we can’t be distracted by other issues.'
“Ultimately, it’s about the person in the bed, and you can’t take your frustrations out on them.
“I would tell youngsters to consider nursing, but know that you need to step into this career with passion to work with other people. Of course you need a salary so you can put food on the table, but first and foremost you need that passion,” she said.
SA Human Rights Commission spokesperson Gushwell Brooks hailed nurses for their outstanding contribution.
“Some have even lost their lives in the service of this country. To these nurses and their families, the commission would like to extend its heartfelt condolences. Your sacrifices, and those of your loved ones, have not gone unnoticed,” said Brooks.
In Parliament, the provincial standing committee on Health commended every nurse for dedicating their careers to contributing to the health and well-being of all individuals.
Committee chairperson Wendy Philander said they remembered the invaluable role nurses around the world play.
“Nurses are known to work long and hard hours, and take care of the most vulnerable in society. The committee wishes to express its gratitude to every nurse, for the quality care patients receive and the invaluable role they play in society every day,” said Philander.