International Nurses Day: Little to celebrate as majority of healthcare workers have not been vaccinated
Date: 12 May 2021
The DA honours all nurses across the world and indeed our own nurses who have been and continue to be the backbone of our health system. Our nurses have shown true resilience and strength during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and have served South Africans even under the most strenuous of circumstances.
Never has this recognition of nurses been more important than now when the world has battled with this pandemic.
It is the greatest injustice that months after the commitment was made and the timelines were set, over 700 000 healthcare workers are yet to receive their vaccine. This is despite the fact that we are possibly on the brink of a third wave of infections and other variants of the pandemic which have been detected in the country.
The Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, has revealed 414 337 health care workers have been vaccinated to date. That’s a fraction of the number of healthcare workers that need to be reached and vaccinated. This rollout continues at a snail’s pace.
Denying our healthcare workers a life-saving vaccine is gambling with their lives. We have seen the devastating effects of the first and second wave of infections and the many healthcare worker that we lost as a result. We cannot afford to get this vaccination process wrong.
As it is, many of our nurses and healthcare workers at large continue being subjected to massive vacancy rates which threaten the quality of care they able to offer, availability of Personal Protective Equipment and poor infrastructure that is crumbling. Despite this, they continue to serve on the front lines of this battle.
There is little to celebrate this Nurse’s Day if we are unable to get the basics right for our healthcare workers.
On Monday the 17th of May, many health facilities will open their doors to thousands of South Africans who are over 60 for the phase 2 of the vaccination process. Again, the rollout of a vaccine will hinge on the nurses who are the backbone of the health system. That is why we need to make sure every healthcare worker is vaccinated without any further delays.
Statement issued by Siviwe Gwarube MP - DA Shadow Minister of Health, 12 May 2021