International Nurses Day: Call for loopholes in health-care system to be addressed
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Pretoria - Nurses yesterday called for all loopholes in the health-care system to be addressed if the country is to survive post the Covid-19 pandemic.
They were speaking at the commemoration of International Nurses Day held at the CSIR in Pretoria.
Nurse Ansina Mokoena said although she was happy that nurses were being celebrated the world over, she was worried about the future of the profession as many of them would be leaving a huge gap when they bowed out of the sector.
Mokoena, who has been in service for more than 30 years, said with the number of nurses being lost due to age and some succumbing to the virus, it was crucial for stakeholders to immediately look to improve the training of nurses and harnessing the expertise of experienced staff.
“The government needs to open the doors of training hospitals as there are a few experienced nurses, and we’re fading away with a vast amount of knowledge and experience. There are no new nurses coming in, and if we continue as is, we might even be looking at a shortage for the next 10 years.
“We need people with a love for the profession, but the government needs to remunerate them better because this is a huge task that these youngsters will have to take forward – and why would they, with no incentive?”
Intensive care unit nurse Hilda Masango said nurses were thrown into the trenches when Covid-19 struck, and it felt like they were in a war zone.
Masango said they appreciated being acknowledged on International Nurses Day, and were hoping that things were taken further for nurses to be more knowledgeable in order to fight not only this pandemic, but the coming ones.
“We need more forums where we can interact with the government to be able to get feedback from us about the provision of personal protective equipment, or even explain things they’re developing, because we will be expected to explain these things to people out in the community.”
Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa president Simon Hlungwani called for the government to address the severe disruptions in the country’s health-care system, failing which the country would be unable to cope with health needs post the Covid-19 pandemic, he said.
Hlungwani said at the core of the problems they had also picked up on, particularly in South Africa, was the under-utilisation of nursing skills and experience at the high decision-making echelons of the health-care system.
This plight had also been highlighted by the International Council of Nurses, which found that just under 40% out of 105 countries surveyed had chief nursing officers sitting at the highest decision-making intervention structures to resolve crises like Covid-19.
Dr Joe Phaahla, the deputy health minister, addressing the commemoration virtually, said that over the past 12 years huge strides had been made in combating HIV/Aids and the management of antiretroviral treatment, thanks to the tireless efforts of nurses, as was the case with the current pandemic.
Phaahla thanked nurses for risking their lives while defending lives and saving the people of the country.
He said even though the country had gone through two waves of the pandemic, with the second being the most devastating, the predicted third wave would once again rely on nurses to be on hand to push forward with vaccination efforts.
“As we start the mass roll-out of vaccinations, we’re relying on the majority of nurses to administer this to the nation, and crossing our fingers to prevent further losses as our health systems and economy are overburdened.”