Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday applauded the nurses of the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa), which celebrated its 20th anniversary, saying they are not only the backbone of the country’s healthcare system, but they are also the “heartbeat and lifeblood”.
He was delivering the keynote address to hundreds of nurses from throughout the country on the southern lawns of the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
It is the same place where the union was formed 20 years ago on Monday also marked the day on which former president Nelson Mandela took his last breath three years ago.
Ramaphosa said: “Exactly 20 years ago, former president Nelson Mandela lauded the arrival and formation of this union as a turning point in the history of the nursing profession in our country.
“You revolutionised nursing and you repositioned nursing. Until the formation of Denosa, nurses in this country had been largely defined by racial divisions.
“President Mandela will surely be pleased to know that Denosa has chosen the theme ‘20 years of unifying nurses’,” Ramaphosa said.
He added that Denosa has done away with race-based nursing organisations and today it is the only authentic voice of nurses in the country.
“You have transformed an unequal public health system to an inclusive, integrated, comprehensive national service.”
He added that nurses are critical agents in the restoration of the dignity of our people.
“I’m pleased to know that Denosa was also founded on outstanding principals and outstanding values where you saw patients as people with dignity who needed to be treated with the dignity that is enshrined in the country’s constitution. You are the people that are giving our people hope and, in many ways, you are also miracle workers.”
Denosa Gauteng chairperson Simphiwe Gada appealed to nurses outside Denosa to join them, saying “this is the only home for nurses”.
“Today we are here celebrating, however, in the near future we will be here making certain demands. We will not be coming to celebrate, but we will be coming to demand certain things.
“We will come in full force. Without nurses there will be no healthcare system in this country,” he said to loud cheers from the crowd