Celebrating 27 years of uniting nurses

DENOSA welcomes ICN’s 10-year plan for countries to address global nursing shortage and ‘Migration Tsunami’ post- COVID-19

Media statement

Saturday, 29 January 2022

PRETORIA – The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA) welcomes the new report by the International Council of Nurses (ICN) on the global shortage of nurses and calls on the delinquent and ignorant South African government, once again, to heed the recommendations of this important report for individual countries to address the 13 million global shortage of nurses that will be witnessed in the next ten years if nothing is done.

In the report the ICN is calling on governments in countries to ensure safe staffing levels, full vaccination for all nurses, improved retention through better pay and rewards, monitoring of nurse self-sufficiency and for the international community to commit to ethical international recruitment, among others.

The report also calls on countries to come up with strategies to retain staff as a way to protect themselves from the imminent migration tsunami due to increasing global demand for nurses. Many nurses in the mid to low-income countries, the report reveals, will be lost the developed countries. The UK, for instance, is currently dispatching recruitment agencies to Africa to establish networks as a way to lure nurses to the UK easily at the time when the South African government does not have a staff retention strategy for critical service personnel like nurses.

The South African government is not even aware of this and has no counter plan to keep onto its staff. In fact the opposite is happening, where in provinces like Gauteng the government is contemplating releasing about 500 nurses who are due to do their community service in various healthcare facilities in the province merely on the basis of ‘no budget’. This simply means that patients and communities in Gauteng will be denied access to nursing expertise at the time of need.

The Eastern Cape has just flushed more than 600 COVID-19 contract nurses from its system while the pandemic is still upon us.

The report estimates a 13 million shortage of nurses globally in the next ten years, with the sub-Saharan Africa and other developing nations to be the hardest hit due to migration to developed countries. The report reveals that the US currently has 194 000 international nurses in its system; the United Kingdom has 100 000 international nurses; Germany has 71 000 international nurses and Australia has 53 000 international nurses. The numbers are on the increase in France, Switzerland and Canada.

To make matters worse, the National Health Service (NHS) in England had 39 813 nursing vacancies in September 2021 alone, while vacancies in Germany were at 27 400 in 2019 with 150 000 nurses to be needed by 2030. 

To address this looming crisis in the developed countries, the high income nations are using a quick fix method by turning to international recruitment, targeting countries like Botswana, Eswatini, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Seychelles, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe, thus reducing the supply of nurses in these countries to catastrophic levels.

DENOSA is warning the South African government that, if it fails once again to protect the loss of access to nursing expertise by its citizens by investing in nursing, it may take far longer to recover from this blunder as each country would make every means possible to hold onto their nursing workforce, many of whom would be nurses from South Africa.


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

For more information, contact:

Cassim Lekhoathi, DENOSA Acting General Secretary.

Mobile: 082 328 9671


Sibongiseni Delihlazo, DENOSA Spokesperson.

Mobile: 072 584 4175 

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