DENOSA supports call for Palliative Care nurses to be given powers to prescribe morphine...

Media statement

Thursday, 31 July 2014

The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA) pledges its full support to the Alliance for Access to Palliative Care in its calls for the country’s nursing regulatory body, the South African Nursing Council (SANC), to provide rights to nurses in palliative care to prescribe morphine for patients who suffer unbearable pain especially in hospices and their homes.

With the prevalence of HIV and various forms of drug-resistant TB as well as the rise of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) among South Africans, such as lung cancer, hypertension and diabetes, the advance stages of these illnesses result in patients needing palliative care, and most of patients are taken care of in their homes.

Because the country is short of doctors even at the country’s healthcare centres, as they are the ones who can assess and prescribe medication for such patients, nurses who supervise home-based care workers can’t prescribe morphine for such patients, a pain killer, even if their assessment of the pain-suffering patients shows the patients deserves a change to morphine.

In Africa, it is only in Uganda where nurses are empowered to prescribe morphine, and that has come to the assistance of patients most of whom suffer pain as a result of their illnesses. Nurses who are trained in palliative care are far better positioned to assess a patient and identify any need for a change in the pain medication. Because they can’t change the mediation, they have no option but to leave patients in pain and suffering.

As the regulatory body for nursing in South Africa, SANC issues of prescriptions by nurses fall under the radar of the Council as enshrined in the Nursing Act 33 of 2005.

DENOSA believes this move will be a milestone that would lead to better management of patients who are in need of palliative care either in their homes or health centres. With the continuing rise in the number of patients suffering from advanced-stage complications of non-communicable diseases such as strokes and other disabilities, giving nurses the powers to prescribe morphine would alleviate the great body pain that palliative care patients suffer from at the moment.

The great example is the manner in which nurses carried out the management of ART, through the Nurse-initiated Management of Anti-Retroviral Therapy (NIMART), and DENOSA believes this should convince the regulatory body for nursing as well as the Department of Health to place the majority health professionals, nurses, at the forefront of fighting the end-product of NCDs.

In its 67th sitting in May this year, the World Health Assembly (WHA) recognised that more than 40 million people currently require palliative care every year, foreseeing the increased need for palliative care with ageing populations and the rise of non-communicable and other chronic diseases worldwide. It also called for Member States, of which SA is one, to have estimates of the quantities of the internationally controlled medicines needed, including medicines in paediatric formulations.     


Issued by the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA)

For more information, contact:

Sibongiseni Delihlazo, DENOSA Communications Manager

Mobile: 079 875 2663 / 072 873 3223

Tel: 012 343 2315



Facebook: DENOSA National Page

Twitter: @DENOSAORG      


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DENOSA Gauteng to hold its two-day Provincial Congress at Kameeldrift Guest Lodge in Pretoria on Thursday and...


The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA) in Gauteng will be holding its two-day Provincial Congress from Thursday and Friday 31 July-01 August 2014 at Kameeldrift Guest Lodge in Pretoria at 12h00, under the theme: "Advancing Unity for Nurses". 

Guest speakers from the ANC, SACP and COSATU will address delegate nurses on the challenges that the profession is currently faced with in the province and in the country. 

Members of the media are invited to attend the Congress and report. 

The details of the Congress are:

DATE: Thursday 31 July and Friday 01 August

VENUE: Kameeldrift Guest Lodge, Pretoria. 
TIME: 12h00 

MOBILE: 082 775 7739  


Sibongiseni Delihlazo, DENOSA Communications Manager
MOBILE: 079 875 2663 

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DENOSA not surprised by yesterday’s Health Quality Assessment results showing SA as a sick nation riddled w...

Media statement

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA) views the results of the Health Quality Assessment (HQA) that were presented yesterday as nothing but a tip of the iceberg in so far as burden of chronic diseases that have engulfed South Africans, as the assessment was only performed based on only 14 medical aid schemes.

If anything, the results indicate a greater need of a preventative healthcare system in the country, underpinned by a strong primary healthcare that focuses on health education.

The results of the quality assessment indicated a very sick nation as it showed that beneficiaries of the 14 medical aid schemes only consulted a physician four times a year on average, and a specialist only once a year.  

When the results of this HQA show an ugly side of well-being for those who can afford paying for medical aid and going for check-ups, the picture is always going to be bleak for those who are not covered by medical aids.   

As far as the burden of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and stroke, DENOSA’s concern is well-documented about the poor state of health of South Africans, the majority of whom are dependent on the very scarce resources at public health facilities.

The outpatient departments at our clinics, day hospitals and 24-hour hospitals are packed with patients who are on medication for chronic diseases, most of which could be easily preventable had people been thought the art of healthy living from an early age.

As a result, this crisis of chronic diseases among South Africans leads to other problems such as the ever-increasing severe shortage of nurses and specialists in public facilities as they look after 80% of the country’s population. This also increases the nurse-to-patient ratio, which research has proven that in an environment where a nurse-to-patient ratio is higher, the time it takes for patients to be fully recuperated and get discharged from health facilities is much longer than in an environment where there is low nurse-to-patient ratio.

For a population of 51 million to be served by around 260 000 nurses as per the database of South African Nursing Council (SANC) (this database also includes nurses who have died, retired, resigned, are unemployed, and those who have gone overseas and those that are not necessarily working as nurses but work in other departments) this means that there are more than 200 people per one nurse in South Africa. In developed countries, the figure is 100 people per one nurse and the health of people in those countries is far better than ours.

DENOSA is happy that the Health Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, mentioned in his budget speech on Wednesday that government will establish a National Health Commission, which will be chaired by the Deputy President, to deal with the challenge of non-communicable diseases.

DENOSA would like to urge all South Africans to embrace a healthy living as a way to ensure their longevity. The danger of not following a healthy lifestyle is that, because there are not enough health workers, chances of people succumbing to these chronic diseases are much higher.


Issued by the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA)

For more information, contact:

Sibongiseni Delihlazo, Communications Manager

Mobile: 079 875 2663

Tel: 012 343 2315

Email: /


Facebook: DENOSA National Page


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From Ntandane Nyebe, a nurse in Cape Town. 

As the backbone of any healthcare system in the world, it is my honest opinion that nurses deserve proper compensation for the hard work they put in in improving the health of South Africans. After all, nurses are the proverbial Alpha and Omega. The following 10 points are the reasons.    

1. We are short staffed- one person does a work that should have been done by 4 people.

2. We have gone through formal education, we have got degrees etc, we are accountable to a nurses' board, we got to be paid decent salaries like Pharmacists and doctors- YES.

3. The health institutions do not have enough of the unskilled workers e.g. porters and cleaners- Nurses are then forced to work as unkilled workers-on top of their scope of practice, when the need arises.

4. There are many instances where doctors go & do shopping at the malls when they are on call, or simply some institutions have shortage of doctors- when an emergency situation arises- a nurse does a work that was supposed to be done by the doctor to save the client. Same case when there no social workers- nurses must run around doing what was supposed to be done by a social worker.

5. We do a risky job - I've heard of many nurses & docs who died from contagious diseases- especially trauma staff.

6. The governing party admitted in 2011 that there is a dire shortage of nurses in SA, which means nursing is a scarce skill in SA and the last time I checked professionals with scarce skills were getting paid higher salaries in SA.

7. We work under bad conditions- institutions with no proper security, lack of proper equipment etc. But we always try and do our best to improvise for the benefit of the clients.

8. Nurses who go & work overseas they don't go there just for fun or to experience different culture- they leave because they feel they are being overlooked by Government in terms of salary- meanwhile SA loses specialised nurses with experience - Government who cares about its people would try and keep nurses by raising salaries.

9. We deserve better. Our Government can afford to increase our salaries by 100%. There is money in SA- we have seen structural developments in SA & they have been built by companies who have been paid millions and billions.

10. ANC Government promised to increase salary of Nurses when they were in Mangaung in 2012/13. 

I Thank You


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July 2014

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About us

The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA) in its current form was established on 5 December 1996.

The organisation was formed through political consensus after the transition to democracy and was mandated by its membership to represent them and unite the nursing profession. Prior to this, the South African Nursing Council (SANC) and the South African Nurses Association (SANA) were statutory bodies which all nurses had to join. It was also important after the transition to democracy to incorp... Read more