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11 May 2004

To be released on 12 May 2004:

International Nurses Day - 12 May 2004

Message from the Registrar of the South African Nursing Council

Today 12 May 2004 is a day set aside internationally to commemorate nurses. Nurses have entered into the profession of nursing that is committed to serve people whose health status is compromised and to maintain the health status of those that are healthy.

The profession of nursing began humbly with the commitment of Florence Nightingale who sought to tend to and restore the dignity of the sick and injured in the Crimean War. Today nursing has grown into a fully-fledged profession that plays a significant role in health care delivery.

For this day of commemoration the international community has identified the theme "Nurses working with the Poor to combat poverty".

This theme could not be more apt for us in South Africa where we as a nation are currently celebrating 10 years of Democracy.

Today we acknowledge and pay tribute to the contribution the 177 000 nurses in South Africa make to our health care system. These nurses often work in and overcome extremely adverse conditions. Despite this, they seldom receive any recognition for their service.

bulletNurses work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year to ensure that the health care needs of South Africans are met.
bulletThey provide health care to all, rich and poor, young and old, sick and well and newborn infants and those that are dying.
bulletNurses are the backbone of the South African Health care system and carry the burden of providing health care in very adverse conditions.
bulletThey provide continuity of care and treatment in communities, residential health care facilities, clinics and hospitals.
bulletIn many areas especially in rural communities the nurse is often the only health care provider available to meet the health care needs.
bulletNurses play a critical role in restoring the dignity of the sick, the elderly, the young and the terminally ill.
bulletWhilst there are many nurses that have left South Africa to work in other countries there are thousands of nurses that have remained and are committed to serving South Africa.

While we acknowledge the contribution of nurses we need to look back and review how the profession of nursing has contributed to the 10 years of democracy in South Africa. Nurses are most suitably placed to take the lead in ensuring that the Constitutional rights of South Africans are promoted and maintained.

In this regard nurses can play a fundamental role in "Restoring the dignity of our people" over the next decade. Nurses can contribute to our democracy by taking the lead in implementing the Bill of Rights enshrined in the Constitution.

Nurses should look at:

bulletImproving access to health care and health care services;
bulletImproving the quality of life of South Africans through better health.
bulletAssisting and guiding the illiterate, the poor and vulnerable groups to gain access to the appropriate resources and assistance to improve their personal circumstances.

A small contribution by each of the 177 000 nurses can attain significant results over the next 10 years of our democracy.

"Let us make the slogan 'nurses unite to work with the poor to combat poverty' become our reality for the next 10 years of our democracy".

Hasina Subedar


Any enquiries should be directed to the Communications Officer.

Tel no: 012 420 1000



2004 - 2020 South African Nursing Council (Under the provisions of the Nursing Act, 2005)