The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) says it was left unimpressed by President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) last night. The nursing union had high expectations from the president’s address at the Cape Town City Hall but instead, healthcare failed to feature at all.
“He touched nothing on health,” said Denosa’s national spokesperson, Sibongiseni Delihlazo. “We would have hoped he had talked about the issue of hiring new nurses in our healthcare facilities, and this would also become part and parcel of tackling youth unemployment which was one of his focus points.”
‘A missed opportunity’
Delihlazo said many South Africans and patients are being deprived of quality healthcare due to ongoing gross shortages of staff and resources in facilities. Despite this, it was disappointing that Ramaphosa remained mum on the issue of National Healthcare Insurance (NHI), Delihlazo told Health For Mzansi.
“We feel that this is one last opportunity missed by the president to really put the nation behind him and his government and have confidence in him to drive the issue of the National Health Insurance (NHI).”
The NHI is significant as it is a means to equal access to quality healthcare for all South Africans. The implementation of the healthcare system is expected to be rolled out in 2026.
‘What is a minister of electricity?’
In his address, Ramaphosa also declared a national state of disaster with immediate effect as a response to the current energy crisis gripping the country.
This is as Eskom has been battling to keep the lights on for the past few months, leading to increased stages of load shedding and a devastating impact on lives, livelihoods, and businesses.
“In considering all these matters and the crisis that we are in; the National Disaster Management Centre has consequently classified the energy crisis and its impact as a national disaster. We are therefore declaring a national state of disaster to respond to the electricity crisis and its effects,” Ramapohosa said.
Delihlazo said the move was cautiously welcomed.
“The declaration on the state of emergency on energy is a bit comforting. The intention is obviously to exempt basic service centres including hospitals. That will be a relief to us because healthcare workers are taking great strain,” he said.
He said the union also had mixed feelings about the appointment of a minister of electricity.
“The deputy president of the state used to be the one dealing with the issue of Eskom because the deputy president is the leader of government business,” he said.
“When you appoint a minister, the feeling may be that you are starting to demote the authority level on the issue of Eskom. We are not sure how that is going to work. It remains to be seen.”
Tackling youth unemployment
Denosa also had hopes that Ramaphosa would tackle the issues of employment in government hospitals.
He said that there were great gaps in vacancies in government facilities in the country.
“There are a number of vacancies in government that are not filled by government and the number of nurses that this country produces is very low and it needs to be improved if we were to channel our energies towards NHI,” Delihlazo concluded.
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