Nurses celebrate International Nurses Day at Somerset Hospital, Cape Town. Photo: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)
Nurses celebrate International Nurses Day at Somerset Hospital, Cape Town. Photo: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

Health Minister salutes nurses on World Nursing Day

By Sihle Mlambo Time of article published May 12, 2020

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Johannesburg - Health Minister Zweli Mkhize says nurses are the face of healthcare in South Africa and called upon them to emulate Florence Nightingale and Cecilia Makiwane, who was the country’s first registered black nurse in 1908.

The minister was addressing health workers at Durban’s King Edward V Hospital on Tuesday during the commemoration of World Nursing Day. 

He said Nightingale tended to sick and fallen soldiers during the Crimean War, while the Alice-born Makiwane gave up her job in the teaching profession to answer her nursing calling. 

“An early activist for women’s rights and in the anti-pass movement, Makiwane is remembered for her indomitable spirit and her unwavering dedication and commitment to the craft. 

“Today, Makiwane’s memory reminds us of our strong legacy of black excellence in the profession which we must continue to advance in everything that we do,” said Mkhize.

The minister said nurses played an important role in protecting and caring for communities.

He also paid homage to 20 nurses who went to help in Tanzania in 1961, when British rule ended in the East African country. 

“Two of these nurses are from this province of KwaZulu Natal, the late Edna Miya who worked at King George, and Sister Cecelia Ntombenhle Khuzwayo, who is now 83, and worked at King Edward. 

“We salute you for being ready to serve the diaspora,” said Mkhize.

Mkhize said in a bid to avert the looming crisis of a shortage of nurses, Treasury had approved the filing of posts in all nine provinces, during and after the Covid-19 pandemic. 

He said the government was committed to equipping health workers with the necessary protective equipment. 

While the pandemic has magnified the cracks and exposed the impact of unequal distribution of resources between public and private sector, we are resolute in ensuring that all health professionals are provided with appropriate personal protective equipment and the requisite tools of trade.

“While the pandemic has magnified the cracks and exposed the impact of unequal distribution of resources between public and private sector, we are resolute in ensuring that all health professionals are provided with appropriate personal protective equipment and the requisite tools of trade.

“As we celebrate our nurses and midwives I would like to affirm our commitment to ensuring that no nurse will be allowed to care for patients without appropriate protective equipment, be it at community level during screening and testing or in a health facility,” he said.

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51 

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** If you think you have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus, please call the 24-hour hotline on 0800 029 999 or visit sacoronavirus.co.za 

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