By Ashok Ramsarup :: South African nurses have been lauded for their sacrifices made for being in the frontline fighting the deadly Novel Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic that claimed more than 206 deaths in the country.
On International Day of the Nurse this week, one of the country’s leading banks, ABSA, joined many hundreds of organisations throughout the world in paying homage and highlighting the significance of the nursing fraternity.
Absa Managing Executive for Regional Coverage in KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga Ronnie Mbatsane said: “COVID-19 has brought into sharp focus the vital work of our country’s medical frontline, particularly the nurses. As our first line of defence, their sacrifices are immeasurable, and they have bravely confronted the pandemic on behalf of all of us fighting the pandemic head-on.”
Mbatsane commented: “As the bank, we wanted to show our appreciation and support International Nurses Day. This forms part of our border national efforts to support South Africans in their time of need, which range from specific customer solutions to contributions into the Solidarity Fund.”
The bank supported the World Health Organisation in encouraging the global community to take part in a moment of reflection to honour the memory of nurses and health care workers who had died tragically during the COVID-19 pandemic.
British Florence Nightingale was the first person in the world to bring about unity in the nursing profession. In 1854, she brought together 38 volunteer nurses to care for ill and wounded soldiers during the Crimean War. Nightingale was credited with creating the modern professional nursing and was instrumental in improving sanitation, hygiene and nutrition of the sick. She was later referred to as the “Lady with the Lamp”.
Mbatsane said: “ABSA has been upbeat and had seen strong symmetry between South Africa’s nurses and the frontline health care professionals, who are the foundation of the country’s medical and financial systems.
“In an effort to highlight their unique role in the organisation, Absa Retail and Business Bank SA has over the past two years, been on a drive to embed the ethos: ‘you either work on the frontline or for the frontline in our business’.
“We appreciate the power of those at the coalface and are acutely aware of the role nurses play in the disbursement of medical care, especially in the health care sector,” added Mbatsane.
Special gifts will be handed to 14,000 nurses in 11 public hospitals in the country this week. The nurses are from hospitals, including Kalafong, Steve Biko and Chris Hani Baragwanath in Gauteng, Pelonomi in the Free State, Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe in the Northern Cape, Livingstone in the Eastern Cape, Tygerberg in the Western Cape, Grey’s in KwaZulu-Natal, Rob Ferreira in Mpumalanga, Tshepong in North West and Polokwane Provincial in Limpopo.
Grey’s Hospital Chief Executive Officer DR Ben Bilenge said while nurses play an invaluable role in protecting the health and safety of South Africans during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is all the roleplayers work hand-in-hand with government, industry and other stakeholders like Absa, to support South Africans during this time.
Mbatsane added: “Absa has undertaken a number of initiatives to support customers and communities during the lockdown period. Most notable has been the Payment Relief Programme, which allows customers with credit products an opportunity to defer payments for three months, thereby offering significant cash-flow relief. The bank has also donated R17.2 million towards various initiatives aimed at dealing with the humanitarian impact of COVID-19.”
Ashok Ramsarup is award-winning senior journalist of South Africa