Celebrating 27 years of uniting nurses

DENOSA expects SONA to focus on NHI and deteriorating healthcare services in SA.

Media statement

Tuesday, 07 February 2023

PRETORIA – As the state President Cyril Ramaphosa will deliver the State of the Nation Address (SONA) in Parliament on Thursday, the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA) is expecting the President to put in a lot of focus on the National Health Insurance (NHI) plans as well as on the country’s deteriorating healthcare services as many South Africans and patients are being deprived of quality healthcare due to ongoing gross shortages of staff and resources in facilities.

The SONA will be delivered a few weeks after the International Council of Nurses (ICN) has issued an appeal to many better-off countries to stop recruiting nurses from the low- to lower-income countries which struggle to produce nurses on their own.

DENOSA also expects the South African government to not be part of the ongoing global phenomenon whereby developed and developing countries are poaching the few nurses in low-income countries that are struggling to produce appropriate numbers of healthcare professionals as a result of their poor economic standing.

As a nursing organisation in South Africa, DENOSA is raising this point because, in August last year, the South African government included on its scarce skills list a number of nursing specialisations. This means the country is starting to accept nurse specialists from foreign countries into the country, thus leaving dire shortages of specialist nurses in those countries.  

South Africa has been silent on the NHI, although the implementation year for this system is 2026. There is a lot that still needs to be put in place to ensure a seamless process of transition. For instance, many healthcare facilities need to be certified to ensure they meet the compliance standards requirements of providing NHI services. There are very few movements since an assessment was made on many healthcare facilities which needed serious facelifting and improvements, with some needing to be rebuilt from scratch.  

The country’s public healthcare system is experiencing a shocking shortage of around 27 000 nurses when there are roughly 5000 nurses who are just sitting at home looking for work. DENOSA’s major concern is that, due to South Africa’s unresolved challenge of producing specialist nurses from its system, the country is well on its way to becoming the disruptor of healthcare services in many African countries as many nurses in those countries would be willing to come to South Africa when their countries can barely afford to produce specialist nurses.

There is no way that South Africa will attract specialist nurses from developed countries; it will attract nurses from poorer countries.

Many developed countries are starting to strike exchange deals with African countries where they want to take nurses from the many countries easily in exchange for producing nurses in the country because it is cheaper to produce nurses in mid- to low-income countries like South Africa. DENOSA’s concern with this is that the South African government will become heavily dependent on foreign countries to fund the production of nurses even for its own citizens.

There is something wrong with that from every angle.   


Issued by DENOSA.

For more information, contact:

Kwena Manamela, DENOSA General Secretary.

Mobile: 082 328 9698

Simon Hlungwani, DENOSA President.

Mobile: 082 328 9635 

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