Nurses are precious, let's show them our support

Nurses need to be appreciated, pens the author
Nurses need to be appreciated, pens the author
Image: Gallo images/Sowetan/Sandile Ndlovu

When the coronavirus pandemic is over and we look back, nurses will top the list of heroes who assisted in the fight against the disease.

As we mark International Nurses Day today let us express our gratitude to them for the selfless work they do for our nation during these hard times.

This year is more special for the caregivers as the World Health Organisation designated it as the "Year of the Nurse and Midwife". This was to mark the 200th anniversary of nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale's birth.

Coincidentally, the year dedicated to recognise their work and celebrate them has become the one they are working the hardest, as they battle to contain the spread of Covid-19.

They are the first to assess patients to determine the urgency of their illness, before doctors, positioning them at the forefront of the fight against the virus.

Sadly, some of them do so without the personal protective equipment required to attend to patients who might be infected with the virus.

In this edition, one of their unions raises concerns over the lack of protective gear and poor working conditions.

National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) spokesperson Khaya Xaba says nurses are being verbally and physically abused by patients.

He added that nurses still faced occupational health and safety hazards at work because of poor infrastructure and lack of protective gear.

Xaba said there was no psychological support for the health-care workers and not enough remuneration due to discriminatory policies on salaries and benefits that leave nurses in unfavourable living conditions.

We call on government to ensure all nurses go out there to save lives in protective gear and with proper equipment, without compromising their own lives.

As soon as the pandemic is over, they also need to review all policies that leave nurses in the lower income band. As patients, let us treat them with respect and understanding of the long hours they work as they attend to us.

In communities, we can show appreciation to them by allowing them to skip queues at supermarkets, banks and any service facilities as they are already working extra hours.

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