NATIONAL NEWS - On Tuesday, health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize held a special candlelight ceremony at the King Edward hospital in Durban to highlight the work done by these front-line workers.
As the world commemorates international nurse’s day, Mkhize dedicated the day to all nurses, especially those nurses who have lost their lives to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Regrettably, our war against the Covid-19 epidemic has cost us the lives of our health workers.
“On behalf of my department, I would like to dedicate this day to all our nurses, especially those nurses who have lost their lives to the pandemic.
“Their contribution to the fight against the pandemic is immeasurable. May their families and loved ones find strength in shared memories and may their souls rest in internal peace,” he said.
The health ministry confirmed last week that 511 health workers contracted Covid-19 while two have died, a nurse and a doctor.
Mkhize said in appreciation of the nurses’ service, the government will give adequate training, ensure sufficient protection and appropriate recognition of their contribution in the service of the nation.
He commended all nurses in the country for their efforts in the fight against the pandemic.
Mkhize thanked nurses for comforting patients who cannot be with their loved ones at the bedside through the journey of Covid-19.
“It is the best gift to our patients, a gift that no amount of money can buy. As you nurse our communities during the pandemic, your personal touch is more palpable as you provide a broad range of essential health services.”
Mkhize reiterated his call that no nurse will be allowed to care for patients without appropriate protective equipment, be it at a community level during screening and testing or in a health facility.
He said the pandemic took a strain on the mental and physical health of nurses.
In this regard, the department was set to prioritise the development and implementation of the comprehensive programme for caring for the carers.
“The critical role nurses play in protecting and caring for our communities cannot be overstated.”
Mkhize said the candlelight ceremony was also a celebration of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, also called “the Lady with the Lamp”.
In South Africa and across the African continent, he dedicated the celebration to Cecilia Makiwane who was the first black woman on the African Continent to be licensed as a nurse.