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Health minister Zweli Mkhize during a press briefing at the Department of International Affairs, 16 March 2020, Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles
Mkhize was speaking at a candlelight ceremony in commemoration of International Nurses Day at King Edward Hospital in KwaZulu-Natal on Tuesday.
MECs for health and some healthcare workers from all provinces took part in the ceremony via Zoom.
Mkhize said it was regrettable that the fight against the pandemic had caused the death of some healthcare workers. He said the contribution of nurses was immeasurable.
Mkhize said the pandemic had magnified the cracks and exposed the impact of unequal distribution of resources between public and private sector. The department, though, remained resolute in its commitment to ensure that health professionals were provided with all the necessary personal protective equipment (PPEs) and the requisite tools of the trade.
“As we celebrate our nurses and midwives, I would like to affirm our commitment to ensuring that no nurse will be allowed to care for patients without appropriate protective equipment, be it at community level during screening and testing or in a health facility,” the minister said.
Mkhize commended the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC), led by President Cyril Ramaphosa, as well as Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni, who had urged provinces to fill frozen and vacant posts across all levels for the duration of the pandemic and beyond.
Caring for carers
All provinces were finalising their recruitments for day-to-day health services and case management in preparation for the anticipated surge of the virus, the minister said.
The department was also committed to supporting healthcare workers to deal with any immediate physical and mental health issues emanating from the pandemic.
“In this regard, we have prioritised development and the implementation of a comprehensive programme to care for the carers.
“Through this programme, our frontline health workers are provided with a safety net across the continuum of care.
“We would also like to commend our social partners, who have extended support to our nurses during this difficult time,” Mkhize added.
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