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MMC praises nurses for their courage and resilience


City of Johannesburg nurses who availed their services during the Ebola crisis in West Africa were singled out for special praise at the International Nurses’ Day celebrations at the weekend.

Johannesburg Member of the Mayoral Committee for Health and Social Development Councillor Nonceba Molwele said “it is compatriots like these who understand the value of internationalism as furtherance of sisterly and brotherly love”.

More than 11 000 people were killed by the virus in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia since its outbreak in December 2013 – the worst Ebola crisis in history. This year’s international Nurses’ Day was celebrated at the Lakeside Hotel and Conference Centre in Benoni on the East Rand on Friday. The day is observed annually on May 12, Florence Nightingale’s birthday.

Speaking to more than 300 healthcare workers and managers, MMC Molwele commended the City’s nurses for their devotion and dedication to providing world-class health services despite the enormous challenges they faced. She said though nurses were not always appreciated for their hard work and caring attitude, they represented hope for a healthy Joburg.

“As you reflect today on the challenges you face due to sicknesses that afflict the vulnerable and the poorest of the poor, remember that you are their last hope, that is, you stand between their despair and hope. To have people dependent on you for comfort and care, particularly when they are between life and death, is a heavy responsibility to carry on one’s shoulders.

“I admire your courage and resilience. As you soldier on in this noble profession, remember that our country relies on you for the caring of the sick and physically infirm,” she said.

Overcrowding and budgetary constraints are some of the challenges clinics face. But the City of Johannesburg, which has a portfolio of 88 primary healthcare facilities, has ongoing plans to build new clinics and revamp existing ones. Over the past few months, Executive Mayor Clr Parks Tau has opened three brand new clinics in the city – in Ennerdale, Lawley and Ivory Park.

MMC Molwele commended the nurses, who often worked under tough conditions.

“Our nurses are faced with frustrated patients who vent their anger and frustrations on them. Their patience under these trying circumstances is commendable. Long queues will soon be a thing of the past because this government is committed to creating a better life for all,” she said.

“These men and women are our hope for the sick. That is why today we are showing our appreciation to them. This is not a profession, it is a calling,” she said.

“I am very happy to see them out of their uniforms and relaxed. We are able to listen to them as they share their innovations to take the healthcare system forward, into a healthier future for all South Africans.”

She praised the nurses for “thinking out of the box” in their quest to improve primary healthcare in line with the National Health Insurance (NHI).

Dr Refik Bismilla, the City’s Executive Director of Health, urged nurses to embrace the changes proposed in the NHI and the National Development Plan.

“There are exciting changes ahead of us. We need your individual buy-in as it is critical because these changes require a mindset shift – from narrow thinking to [embracing] the future,” he said, adding:

“Be the change you want to see.”