Celebrating International Nurses Day | Western Cape Government

Speeches

Celebrating International Nurses Day

11 May 2010

Master of Ceremonies, Mr. Tendani Mabuda
Guest speaker, Prof Duma
Head of Health, Prof. Househam
Nurses from this province

Today, 12 May 2010, we celebrate the 100th birth day of Florence Nightingale, and International Nurses Day, with the rest of the world. Thank you for travelling from all over our province to be together as a nursing community. This year's theme for International Nurses day is Delivering Quality, Serving Communities: Nurses Leading Chronic Care.

Some notes on Florence Nightingale
Florence Nigthingale's vision completely changed society's approach to nursing. She understood the valuable contribution nurses could make in health care. She was committed to personalised care and saw that sensitivity to patient needs was the key to recovery. She believed that it was important to look after an individual's health, mental and physical, as well as sickness, an idea well ahead of its time.

Florence Nightingale's strong values influenced her work throughout her life. She saw nursing as helping people to live and promoted the importance of the nurse's integrity. She fought for health care for people regardless of faith or economic background.

Today we remember Florence Nightingale as the one person who raised the stature of nursing from an unskilled profession to a medical profession.

What I find quite interesting about Florence Nightingale is that although she wrote her book, Notes On Nursing, and wrote many addresses to nursing students, she never personally addressed an audience. And so in some way, this afternoon, I feel out of place to address almost 600 nurses, because there is no way that I can even imagine myself in your shoes.

However, I am capable of saying thank you. Thank you for the amazing work you do.

If we should compare our health services to a human body, the Head of Health and top management would be the head, central hospitals, clinical services and district health services would be the body and support services would be the nervous system. But the hands and feet of that human body, would be you, our nurses. Our health facilities rely heavily on nurses. We have more than 11 000 nurses (all categories) including 5900 registered nurses working at clinical facilities throughout the Western Cape.

Thank you for the amazing work you do, of which the largest part cannot be seen by the human eye.

The very nature of a nurses' daily tasks changes many patients' lives for the good. Nurses are always at the forefront of health care, and they are the first contact with the patients. You can immediately bring compassion and alleviate fears and provide a sense of security to our patients. Nurses must always be alert and know when to refer to the next level of care, which is your medical intervention with a doctor.

Transforming illness to wellness
In terms of the challenges that we face at our health facilities, long queues certainly are one of the most challenging. I want to assure you that on top management level, this challenge is always under discussion and that we are all the time thinking of new initiatives to overcome this problem. I would like to listen to some of your suggestions on the challenge of long queues.

In the bigger scheme of things, though, we need to shorten queues, which means that we need to strengthen our people's immunity levels, their fighting fitness on both a physical and psychological level. It is often the softly-spoken word, the empathy, the listening ear, that improves a patient's well-being, in spite of the pain.

Thus the challenge is not illness, but wellness. In practical terms this means that our larger challenge is to change people's lifestyles, to transform vulnerable immunity systems to stronger bodies that can fight the good fight against disease.

Along the same lines, and in the spirit of the Nurses pledge, I want to appeal to young people to consider a career in nursing. It is an exciting career with many facets and offers a wide range of opportunities for advancement.

In closing.
Today, in celebrating International Nurses Day, we want to draw attention to the invaluable role you play in delivering quality healthcare to the Western Cape community.

We live in a world where many tasks have been taken over by computers, and in many ways technological advances have made our life easier. But the human soul and the human heart can never be replaced by a robot, and in this sense Florence Nightingale was well ahead of her time. She realized that human suffering and healing only happens in an environment where a patient is receiving personal care, human to human, because nursing means giving of yourself.

We salute you and celebrate the work you do so tirelessly to contribute to the healing of those in need.