International Nurses Day: A tribute to the front line soldiers of the healthcare system

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Today the world observes International Nurses Day, a day observed around the world each year, to mark the contributions that nurses make to society.

Minister of health, Dr Zweli Mkhize said,  as we celebrate International Nurses Day, let us remember those nurses who put their lives on the line every day to fight Covid-19 and the nurses who put our safety before their family’s

“While most of us have been shuttered away in the safety of our homes, these unsung heroes have been deep in the trenches putting their lives and those of their loved ones on the line to beat this virus,” said Mkhize.

Adding, “we are thus all called on to play our part in protecting our nurses and healthcare workers. And this International Nurses Day, it is the best way we can thank them for all that they are giving up for us.”

It’s a bittersweet day for many nurses around the world, as they honour those who have died due to Covid-19 pandemic.

In South Africa, two nurses lost their lives and succumbed to Covid-19 related complications.

Premier of the Western Cape, Alan Winde honoured the fallen heroes,  “today we pay special tribute to the two nurses we lost to Covid-19, Petronella Benjamin and Ntombizakithi Ngidi. We thank them for their dedication and their service and we send our heartfelt condolences to their families and friends.”

He said that this year, as our nurses face tremendous pressure and great personal risk on the frontlines of the Covid-19 response, we pay tribute to them for their care and their commitment.

As the day to honour our health workers continued, many expressed gratitude to and acknowledged  that  without nurses and other health workers, we will not win the battle against outbreaks.

The World Health Organization (WHO) joins hundreds of partners worldwide to highlight the importance of nurses in the healthcare continuum and thank nurses for what they do. The theme for this year is” Nursing the World to Health”

According to WHO, Nurses account for more than half of all the world’s health workers, yet there is an urgent shortage of nurses worldwide with 5.9 million more nurses still needed, especially in low- and middle-income countries.

Professor Renata Schoeman, Head of the MBA Healthcare Leadership Programme at the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) said that the rapid spread of the virus has an enormous impact on medical professionals.

“In an already stretched, under resourced environment, medical professionals are finding themselves powerless.

“They are suffering from fatigue, longer shift hours, guilt as they are not able to assist everyone, fear of running out of supplies and ventilators, and fear for their own health as well as putting their own families at risk.

“They are torn between ethical professional duty and the instinct to protect their own.”

Schoeman says professionals should take care of themselves during this time, and in healthcare managers being aware of the stress staff are facing, and providing support.

“Acknowledge and accept feelings of anxiety and fatigue and allow yourself to normalise these feelings. Reach out to colleagues facing the same battle and provide mutual support. It’s now more than ever important for medical professionals to ensure a healthy diet, get enough rest, to exercise, and to connect with others via online virtual platforms,” she says.

** If you think you have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus, please call the government’s 24-hour hotline on 0800 029 999 or go to SA Coronavirus for more information.


By Viwe Ndongeni-Ntlebi


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