SACBC statement on International Nurses Day


On 12 May, the world celebrates International Nurses Day. Nurses play a pivotal role in caring for the sick. This has become even clearer during the COVID-19 pandemic, when family members are unable to visit their loved ones. The Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference (SACBC) issued a statement to thank nurses for the work they do. The statement also sends a strong appeal to government to provide nurses with the equipment to protect themselves, following reports that 500 nurses have tested positive for the virus. The full-text is below, or can be downloaded here.

Without our nurses, South Africa’s battle against COVID-19 fight would be lost.

We join President Cyril Ramaphosa and the whole country in thanking our nurses in South Africa who, being at the frontline of the response against the COVID-19, have shown us an example of heroism and self-sacrifice.

With over 10,000 COVID-19 infections, a number that is rising by the day, their work in screening and treating patients is more than a profession, but a vocation that involves dedication to the common good.

Besides providing treatment to those infected, nurses have provided much-needed support to the dying and those who have lost loved ones because of the disease. Our nurses are more than nurses.

As President Cyril Ramaphosa said so well earlier today: they are community-builders, mentors, counsellors, and educators who provide psychosocial support beyond the medical domain. Without our nurses, particularly those working in under-served parts of the country, South Africa’s fight against COVID-19 would be lost.

Looking at the important role nurses play in the fight against the novel coronavirus, we call on the
government and other stakeholders to ensure them and other frontline healthcare workers, especially those working in marginalised and remote communities, have adequate access to the means to protect themselves against the disease – today, tomorrow and the days after.

According to the latest statistics, over 500 healthcare workers across the country have tested positive for COVID-19, of which several have died, including nurses. We mourn these unsung heroes whilst keeping them, their families and their colleagues at the frontline, in our prayers.

+ WM Slattery

Date 12th May 2020

For more information contact: Archbishop William Slattery OFM: +27 (0) 83 468 5473, Email:

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* The opinions expressed here by Spotlight.Africa contributors and editors are their own and not official statements of the Society of Jesus in South Africa or of the Catholic Church unless explicitly stated.


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SACBC statement on International Nurses Day