South Africa moves to revitalise nursing

12 March 2013

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has unveiled a national strategic plan aimed at rebuilding and revitalising the nursing profession in South Africa.

The National Strategic Plan for Nurse Education, Training and Practice was developed by a task team appointed by Motsoaledi following the 2011 Nursing Summit, which identified the main challenges facing the country’s nursing profession.

The plan seeks to promote high quality training along with high standards of professionalism and well-resourced practice environments for nurses and midwives.

It also aims to ensure strong leadership at all levels of nursing and midwifery practice, as well as the training of the number of nurses required to deliver healthcare services in the country.

Speaking at the launch of the plan in Boksburg, east of Johannesburg on Monday, Motsoaledi called on the nursing profession to come together to ensure the successful implementation of the plan.

“The training of nurses is more efficient within the host environment next to the bedside in the nursing college, and from there everything else will emerge,” Motsoaledi said.

He said it was crucial, as South Africa’s healthcare system was revitalised and the National Health Insurance began rolling out, that nurses were equipped to address the country’s health care needs.

Motsoaledi thanked the nursing profession for the helping the country raise its life expectancy from an average 56.5 years in 2009 to 60 years in 2011.

“One of the things that made us increase the life expectancy so miraculously was expanding the HIV and Aids programme, and we could not have done so without nurses.”

Motsoaledi noted that in February 2010, before the government launched its voluntary HIV counselling and testing programme, there were only 250 nurses in the country that were accredited to initiate antiretroviral treatment without a doctor. Today, he said, there were over 10 000 accredited nurses.

“There was no way South Africa could have achieved this with the help of doctors alone.”