Nurses, rallying behind the banner of Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA) and representatives from South Africa Medical Association (SAMA), Treatment Action campaign, South Africa Council of Churches and retired nurses made their voice heard about health challenges when they officially launched the Positive Practice Environment (PPE) campaign in Limpopo, by marching to the Mankweng Hospital outside Polokwane on Wednesday, 12 June.
Led on the day by DENOSA provincial secretary in Limpopo, Kwena Manamela, and SAMA chairperson for public sector doctors, Dr Phophi Ramathuba, PPE is a call for a safer and conducive environment in healthcare facilities for health professionals to work under as well as for patients to recuperate, by offering their help in finding solutions to the problems too.
Informed by the sad anomalies in the county’s healthcare facilities which often result in the shifting of the blame towards healthcare workers at these hospitals, DENOSA and SAMA are embarking on the campaign as a way for health workers to express the conditions they work under, which are beyond their control.
By coming together and holding hands with community members under the banner of the PPE campaign, the march was aimed at voicing out the concerns of both healthcare workers as well as community members in the province about the conditions in healthcare, which are highly characterised by, among other things, lack of safety; non-payment of both suppliers and health workers; interrupted supplies of equipment, medication and food to hospitals; shortage of both human and financial resources to enable health workers to function properly.
The PPE campaign calls for the following elements in our healthcare facilities:
Safety; Payment of workers and suppliers; enough and functional resources; enough and functional equipment; Education to ensure continuous professional development; Supplies of all necessary equipment and medication on time; Support of staff in health; Respect for the profession.
As a result of many incidents in health facilities in the province, the relationship between health workers and communities has been soured recently. For example, after four babies died at George Masebe hospital early in January this year, the community around that hospital marched to the hospital to demand answers from doctors.
The campaign says it is time health workers and community members played a key role, as major stakeholders, in the problems besieging health in the province.
The next province to launch the campaign will be the Eastern Cape on the 27th of July at the Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital, which is the pilot site for the National Health Insurance.