Campaign to bring back family planning

Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Gabi Khumalo

Johannesburg - Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi has challenged nurses to join the department in embarking on a campaign to promote family planning to young girls through the use of contraception, instead of them resorting to abortion.

A concerned Motsoaledi revealed at the three-day National Nursing Summit that since the Termination of Pregnancy Act was passed in the country, thousands of young girls are taking the route of abortion due to a lack of information on contraceptives.

Motsoaledi was aggrieved by the fact that streets poles were littered with advertisements for "safe abortions", mainly from flight-by-night health professionals.

"Young girls only see boards about safe abortions ... we've got to solve this problem. We must bring back the campaign of contraception to schools to stop pregnancies," Motsoaledi said, emphasising that nurses with special training in family health care should be deployed in schools.

He explained that when the act was passed, it was only meant for emergencies and used as a last resort.

"Abortion is ... traumatic for [the woman] and the health worker. Nursing should not be about waiting in the hospital for young people to come and do abortion."

Motsoaledi, who was addressing about 2 000 nurses at the Sandton Convention Centre, characterised the current health system as destructive, unaffordable and unsustainable. "This is because it is hospicentric and curative, with little health promotion and preventive [measures]."

Themed 'Reconstruction and Revitalising the Nursing Profession for a Long and Healthy Life for All South Africans', the focus areas of the summit include nursing education and training, leadership, governance, policy and legislation, ethical and value systems of nursing, role of the nurse in the improvement of health outcomes, as well as the regulatory framework in nursing education and training.

Motsoaledi said the department has identified areas needing urgent attention, particularly in maternal/neonatal care, and HIV/Aids treatment.

He also highlighted the importance of trained staff working in their areas of specialty, saying that the rotation of nurses led to the loss of institutional memory.

"We want health care workers to work as a team. This also implies that they should be trained in teams ... which should include all members of the team - doctors, nurses and midwives," said Motsoaledi.

He further warned that the days of moonlighting and nursing agencies were numbered, as they were going to be abolished to improve health care service delivery.

Motsoaledi said nurses with qualifications should be able to get a job.

He also challenged the delegates to debate the issue of bringing back the white uniform for nurses. "It's (white uniform) a scientific thing. One of them is infection control. Why do our nurses wear different uniforms? What's wrong with the white uniform?" - BuaNews

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