Sona | Denosa pleads with Ramaphosa to address deteriorating healthcare services

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 Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa) said the shortage of nurses in South Africa puts a strain on the public health system. Photo: Dragon Images
Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa) said the shortage of nurses in South Africa puts a strain on the public health system. Photo: Dragon Images

The Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa) is expecting President Cyril Ramaphosa to feature the National Health Insurance (NHI) plans and the country’s deteriorating healthcare services when he delivers the state of the nation address (Sona) in Parliament on Thursday.

Denosa general secretary Kwena Manamela said the authorities had been silent on the NHI, although the implementation year for this system was 2026.

There is a lot that still needs to be put in place to ensure a seamless process of transition. For instance, many healthcare facilities need to be certified to ensure they meet the compliance requirements for providing NHI services.

Manamela said the country’s public healthcare system was experiencing a shocking shortage of about 27 000 nurses when there were about 5 000 nurses who were just sitting at home looking for employment.

“Denosa’s major concern is that, due to South Africa’s unresolved challenge of producing specialist nurses from its system, the country is well on its way to becoming the disruptor of healthcare services in many African countries, as many nurses in those countries would be willing to come to South Africa when their countries can barely afford to produce specialist nurses,” he said.

READ: Sona | Empty promises: It's a poor show, Mr President

Manamela said many South Africans and patients were deprived of quality healthcare due to ongoing gross shortages of staff and resources in facilities.

“The Sona will be delivered a few weeks after the International Council of Nurses has issued an appeal to many better-off countries to stop recruiting nurses from the low- to lower-income countries that struggle to produce nurses on their own. The organisation also expects the South African government to not be part of the ongoing global phenomenon whereby developed and developing countries are poaching the few nurses in low-income countries that are struggling to produce appropriate numbers of healthcare professionals, as a result of their poor economic standing.”

READ: EC nurse commits suicide after his contract was not renewed

Manamela said there was no way that SA would attract specialist nurses from developed countries; instead, it would attract nurses from poorer countries.

“Many developed countries are starting to strike exchange deals with African countries where they want to take nurses from the many countries easily in exchange for producing nurses in the country because it is cheaper to produce nurses in mid- to low-income countries such as South Africa. Denosa’s concern with this is that the South African government will become heavily dependent on foreign countries to fund the production of nurses even for its own citizens.”

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