WATCH: Mkhize salutes health workers at inaugural Angel Wings awards
Cape Town – Health Minister Zweli Mkhize saluted healthcare workers at the inaugural Angel Wings awards in Durban on Friday night.
In conferring the inaugural awards to the first 12 recipients from Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital and Life Entabeni Hospital, he acknowledged that they were ’’soldiers that go over and beyond on the battlefield'’.
On the anniversary of the first case of Covid-19 in South Africa, he said the Angel Wings were a ’’solemn distinction and means of symbolising the immense gratitude we have for the great sacrifices whilst in the line of duty’’.
The Angel Wings Project is an initiative of ordinary South Africans who want to show their appreciation to health professionals.
Addressing the healthcare workers, Mkhize said: ’’Today has been a very emotional day as we reflect on the past year living with the coronavirus. I want to thank you for inviting us to witness this occasion – it is not often that awards are conferred to professionals by ordinary people and yet these inaugural awards have captured the wonderful spirit of appreciation that so many South Africans from all walks of life have for our health care workers.
’’Thank you for giving a voice to ordinary people so that our professionals can be recognised with the dignity and humility that reflects their work ethic for which they are being recognized today.
’’The World Health Organisation (WHO) had designated 2020 the ’International Year of the Nurse and Midwife’ to celebrate the great work of nurses and midwives, highlight the challenging conditions they often face, and advocate for increased investment in the nursing profession.
’’The year 2020 was significant for WHO by recognising the critical role nursing and midwifery play in strengthening Universal Health Coverage.
’’The plan for 2020 was to improve the public’s understanding of the contributions nurses and midwives make in the societies they live in. The global epidemic called for a different approach to celebrating nurses, the real leaders of the world to health.
’’For most of our communities a nurse is the first to be seen at the time of birth. A heartbeat of the health system throughout the lifespan providing preventative, curative and rehabilitative care, and often the last to help close our eyes at the time of end of life.
’’Since South Africa reported its first Covid-19 case on this very day (5 May, 2020), we have witnessed the steadfastness and resilience of this cadre of healthcare workers through their great contribution in the response to the pandemic. Although this was achieved under very challenging conditions within our health system, nurses soldiered on persistently and remained at the forefront even where their own lives were at risk.
’’We also acknowledge the fact that all the other cadres of healthcare workers rose to the occasion in the fight against Covid-19. We have emerged as world leaders in health emergency response because of the expertise, courage and and stamina on the field.
’’The Angel wings initiative resonates with the resolution adopted at the 73rd World Health Assembly where all Member States unanimously designated 2021 as the ’International Year of Health and Care Workers’ (YHCW), in appreciation of and gratitude towards healthcare workers for their unwavering dedication in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
’’The World Health Organisation (WHO) has therefore launched a year-long campaign, under the theme – Protect. Invest. Together. The objectives of the campaign are to:
- Ensure the world’s healthcare workers are prioritised for the Covid-19 vaccine in the first 100 days of 2021.
- Recognise and commemorate all health and care workers who have lost their lives during the pandemic.
- Mobilise commitments from member states, international financing institutions, bilateral and philanthropic partners to protect and invest in healthcare workers to accelerate the attainment of the SDGs and Covid-19 recovery.
- Engage member states and all relevant stakeholders in dialogue on a care compact to protect health and care workers’ rights, decent work, and practice environments.
- Bring together communities, influencers, political and social support in solidarity, advocacy and care for health and care workers.
’’The campaign highlights the urgent need to invest in healthcare workers for shared dividends in health, jobs, economic opportunity, and equity. This means appropriate protection and improved conditions of work, as well as additional investments in health care workers’ education and employment.
’’It also means a shared vision for investing in people as the foundation of Health for All. We therefore welcome and appreciate this Initiative by the South African Footwear & Leather Export Council to honour our healthcare workers as ’soldiers that go over and beyond on the battlefield’ by awarding them with Angel Wings – a solemn distinction and means of symbolising the immense gratitude we have for the great sacrifices whilst in the line of duty.
’’We are grateful to share this moment with you on this, the anniversary of the first case of Covid-19. This time last year we were saying the first case of Covid-19 is here.
’’Today we are pleased to announce that over 100 000 healthcare workers have been vaccinated.’’