The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) would like to add our voice to the chorus today, as the world celebrates International Nurses Day and all nursing professionals across the globe. As the IFP, we wish to acknowledge the vital role that nurses play in our society and thank them for their tireless dedication to their patients.
Nurses are the unsung heroes of the healthcare profession. They work long hours and are most often the ones to provide words of comfort and reassurance to those that are ill or injured. It is their gentle hands that bind wounds and help patients get to their feet.
As the IFP, we are deeply grateful for all those men and women who took the decision to dedicate their lives to the care of their fellow human beings. Their essential work was never more apparent than during the Covid-19 pandemic, when millions of nurses across the world made huge sacrifices to care for patients – long hours in the wards, not seeing their families for months on end, and for some, the ultimate sacrifice of their own lives.
Unfortunately, far too often, nurses are overworked and underpaid, which has led to a world-wide shortage of nurses. In South Africa, the profession is also hampered by the cost of training, as well as red tape associated with the training and qualification of specialist nurses.
According to Med Brief Africa, “an executive summary of the SA Nursing Workforce Planning paper (2021),” stated that “the estimated workforce gap in 2019 stood at between 26,000 and 62,000 nurses, with professional nurses accounting for 50% of this gap. Dire shortages exist in all provinces but are particularly severe in the major economic hubs; Gauteng, the Western Cape and KwaZulu Natal. By 2030, the study projects that the demand for nurses will increase to between 305,000 and 340,000, primarily driven by population growth.”
If one considers that, according to Life Healthcare, South Africa only has one nurse per 213 people, and, more worryingly, that less than a third of our nurses are under the age of 40, it becomes very clear that the nursing profession is in serious trouble.
Our nurses cannot be abandoned, and the nursing profession cannot be abandoned – the consequences are too devastating to imagine. This, particularly in our rural communities, where the nurses are often those tasked with the roll-out of community-based care.
As the IFP, we call on government – particularly the Department of Health – to step in and ensure that measures are put in place to make the nursing profession more attractive: not only to ensure we retain our existing cohort of nurses, but also to ensure that nursing is seen as an appealing career choice for young people who are about to embark on tertiary studies.
Hon. Mkhuleko Hlengwa, MP
IFP National Spokesperson
071 111 0539