Nurses Day, 12 May 2004
The nursing profession the world over has produced some remarkable people. Florence Nightingale is an international household name. In the Western Cape we boast with Machelle Crystal Gordon, runner up in the National Cecilia Makiwane Awards and Alec Nicholas Alexander, Western Cape nominee in the National Marilyn Lahana Trust Caring Award, to name but two local achievers in the nursing profession. In the Western Cape 22 nurses have already received provincial awards.
Nursing has for years been a desired and honourable profession drawing dedicated volunteers from all walks of life. Today the nursing profession is a highly skilled one requiring trained nurses in a variety of disciplines. I support Nurses Day because I believe that we, as a nation, need to pay tribute to our thousands upon thousands of nurses fulfilling their pledge of service in hospitals and clinics throughout the country. It is a pledge of service to humanity honoring the noble tradition of the profession of always putting the total health of the patient first.
Health services throughout the world face the challenge of nursing shortages. South Africa, with its high training standards, produces a sought after nursing fraternity. We need to revisit our nurses' retention strategy if we are to stem the flow of nursing skills leaving the country.
A first priority would be creating better working conditions including an improved salary and allowance structure. We cannot afford to lose precious nursing skills desperately needed in our own facilities through a perceived attitude of not caring. May Nurses Day serve its purpose to emphasise our high regard of the nursing profession. I give our nurses the assurance that the Western Cape does care for them. We need you, we admire you and we honour you. You are truly people who feel called to serve your fellow beings. We thank you for your loyalty to your profession. I know it is not loyalty alone that pays the bills at the end of the day, but be assured that I will fight for a better deal for all our nursing staff.
Note to eds:
Cecilia Makiwane was the first registered black nurse to be recognized by the Government almost a century ago. The awards seek to motivate and inspire nurses by recognizing and rewarding excellence.
The Marilyn Lahana Trust Caring Award recognizes outstanding members of the nursing and midwifery professions. The award commemorates Marilyn Lahana, a nurse who died in 1996 after contracting the Ebola virus from a patient.