Johannesburg - The Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa) has called on the government to address the severe disruptions on the country's healthcare system as the world commemorates International Nurses Day.
Yesterday (Wednesday) marked International Nurses Day (IND), an international day observed around the world to mark the contributions that nurses make to society.
As the country celebrated IND, Denosa called on the South African government to put a clear strategy to address the “gradual disruption” that Covid-19 is causing on the country's healthcare system.
“At the core of this disruption in the healthcare service is the under-utilisation of nursing skills and experience at the high decision-making echelons of many countries' healthcare systems despite the reality that healthcare systems globally are driven by majority healthcare professionals, nurses,” the union said.
Denosa said that this warning came from Survey Report for January 2021 by the International Council of Nurses (ICN). The report revealed that just under 40% of 105 countries that were surveyed, including South Africa, found that specialised nurses in infection, prevention and control are less involved in decision-making teams, with only 44% of countries indicating their involvement.
The union said the report also found that Covid-19 has resulted in severe disruptions of healthcare services in various critical areas, including a 70% reduction in community routine vaccination; a 55% reduction in cancer diagnosis and treatment and; 28-million routine surgeries being cancelled.
“Denosa is concerned that South Africa's picture is no different to the findings of the ICN Report, and that the country is sitting on a ticking time-bomb as the effects of these reductions will further compound and worsen to a point where healthcare services won't be able to respond adequately,” the union said.
The union said the Survey Report recommended that building up a nurse-led model of care, including the involvement of Chief Nursing Officers and experienced specialist nurses, will bring about universal health coverage.
The report also recommended that maintaining adequate levels of nursing staff and supporting facilities with sufficient resources will solve about half the battle because nurses account for 80% of contact between patients and healthcare professionals.
“Denosa believes that South Africa can learn greatly from these recommendations as it is currently in the red zone. Instead of expanding its healthcare staffing with nurses, it is cutting it further down,” the union said.
Denosa added that South Africa was in a better position to be able to change its “dangerous route”.
“There are still nurses who are qualified and young and willing to work in South Africa, but they are sitting at home without jobs. There are nurses who have recently qualified after completing their community service who could be absorbed,” the union said.
It added that the failure to follow these recommendations, however, will prove that the country has truly abandoned the National Health Insurance ideal as South Africa's form of Universal Health Coverage.