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International Nurses Day

Marking the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birthday, International Nurses Day, is an appropriate way to pay tribute to the approximately 150 000 nurses that are employed in South Africa. These unsung heroes of our hospital wards, who answer the vocational calling to put themselves in the fore front of community duty, to help the sick and infirm, are to be given the greatest accolades. Nurses are the only people who are present at the beginning of our lives, right up to the termination of our earthly existence on earth, and all the life changing stages in between.

As the largest health care profession in the world, undoubtedly, nurses are vital to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, as nurses are frequently, the only health professionals, who are accessible to the majority of people, and therefore in a good position to reach the under-served and disadvantaged populations.

Let us also take this opportunity to acknowledge Cecilia Makiwane, who was the first registered professional Black nurse, in South Africa, and an early activist in the struggle for women’s rights. On 7 January 1908, she was registered as the first black professional nurse, and in 1912, she participated in the first women’s anti-pass campaign, where a petition was signed by approximately 5 000 Black and Coloured women, for the pass laws to be repealed. Cecilia Makiwane performed her nursing duties at the Lovedale Hospital and served the hospital for many years.

Nursing is the most noble and compassionate of professions, and the women and men who choose this as their career are empathetic and committed individuals, who are determined to make a difference within their communities.

We extend our gratitude to the nursing community, and salute it for the humanity and devotion to the people, the society and the country.

“Nursing is an art: and if it is to be made an art, it requires an exclusive devotion as hard a preparation, as any painter’s or sculptor’s work; for what is the having to do with dead canvas or dead marble, compared with having to do with the living body, the temple of God’s spirit? It is one of the Fine Arts: I had almost said, the finest of Fine Arts.” Florence Nightingale

In everything that we do, we believe in giving hope and restoring dignity.