The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] conveys its militant salute to millions of nurses across the globe celebrating International Nurses Day which is celebrated annually on the 12th May.

As NEHAWU, we salute the courageous and compassionate caregivers who play a tremendous role in providing healthcare to humanity. We appreciate the role that nurses play in improving the health status of our people. We recognise their invaluable contribution in keeping our countries’ collapsing healthcare system afloat.

This year the International Nurses Day is commemorated under the theme: Our Nurses. Our Future. Indeed, the theme succinctly captures the critical role of nurses as the backbone of the healthcare system and the important role they play in promoting health and wellbeing of our people. The theme also amplifies the critical need to investment more resources in the nursing fraternity to improve patient-centred quality of care and to prepare for full implementation of National Health Insurance. As the adage goes “A country that does not value the health of its citizen deserves no future”, but most importantly a country that does not invest in nurses deserves no future.

The World Health Organisation [WHO] State of the world’s nursing 2020 report identified key critical areas that governments across the world should prioritise in investing on nurses, these included amongst investing on nursing education, creation of nursing jobs and nursing leadership. The investment in these areas cannot be over-emphasised for the future of nurses and ultimately the future of society.

We are still recovering from the aftermath of COVID-19 pandemic which exposed the failures of the capitalist system in providing universal health care for humanity around the world. In the South African context, due to government neoliberal policies centred on austerity measures have weakened the capacity of the state to deliver services on health, education and social security. Indeed our government has not invested adequately in the healthcare system more especially on the health workforce as per the Human Resources for Health Strategy.

As we celebrate this day, it is imperative for government to invest in the nursing fraternity to address major challenges encountering our healthcare system. This investment would contribute in improving and strengthening the healthcare system ensuring that it provides access to quality health services for all in line with the principles of universal health coverage.

The government must invest in the nursing fraternity through the employment of more nurses in order to have an effective and functional health system that provides qualitative health outcomes for the population as per the vision of HRH Strategy. Equally, in order to achieve a well-developed and sustainable healthcare system it’s crucial to have nurses that are skilled, knowledgeable and have expertise to provide healthcare services. This has been a major challenge confronting our health system in that the government has not prioritised skilling, capacitating, educating and training nurses to ensure that adequate and efficient nursing services are delivered to meet the health needs of our people and to support the health sector.

The government must put resources for nursing education and training and this must be linked to transforming South African Nursing Council [SANC] so as to radically improve the nursing fraternity as one of the terrain of struggles in the health sector. The council should be playing a leading role in the regulation of the nursing profession, this include ensuring that the working conditions are conducive, nursing practice standards, career development and advancement, and maintain nursing education and training as well as practice standards.

The government must invest in creating conducive working environments. Nurses can only render quality services if the work environment provides conditions that support them, positive work environments are important in achieving patient and employee safety, quality care and favourable patient outcomes. A conducive work environments involves all practices implemented to attain the highest level of nurse health and well-being, quality patient care outcomes, high institutional performance and positive social outcomes.

We call on the government to invest on nurses for the realisation of providing quality healthcare services for our people. Our Nurses. Our Future. Forward to International Nurses Day.


Issued by NEHAWU Secretariat

Zola Saphetha (General Secretary) at 082 558 5968; December Mavuso (Deputy General Secretary) at 082 558 5969; Lwazi Nkolonzi (NEHAWU National Spokesperson) at 081 558 2335 or email: