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Nurses graduation ceremony 2011 speech

Speech by the Honourable MEC for Health, Mr Mxolisi Sokatsha, on the occasion of the Graduation Ceremony of the Henrietta Stockdale Nursing College. Tabernacle, Kimberley. Frances Baard District – Northern Cape, 20 May 2011: 10h00

Programme Director
Members of the Executive Council
Members of the Provincial Legislature
Chairperson and Members of the Provincial Portfolio Committee on Health
Executive Mayor of the Frances Baard District Municipality
Mayor of Sol Plaatje Local Municipality
The Acting Head of Department of Health
Principal and Registrar of the Nursing College
Esteemed guests
Senior Managers and Departmental officials from the Provincial Department of Health and the Henriette Stockdale Nursing College
Parents, Spouses, Partners, children, family and friends of the graduates
Esteemed Members of the media
Ladies and Gentlemen

Good morning to all. It is indeed a great honour and privilege to be part of and been invited to say a few words at this auspicious occasion – the graduation of the class of 2010 nursing students of the Henrietta Stockdale Nursing College. To all the graduates, I would like to convey my warmest congratulations on behalf of the Honourable Premier and the Northern Cape Provincial Government on what is indeed a splendid personal achievement.

I want to share the following quote with you by Orrin Hatch:“Graduation is not the end; it's the beginning.". Indeed, graduates, a new chapter in your life has begun filled with uncertainty, hope, dreams and anticipation. Enjoy the journey!
Ladies and gentlemen, nurses are the backbone of healthcare delivery in the whole world. Without them, we can't begin to talk of any healthcare system. For a country and a government, it is always pleasing to witness the injection of yet another group of young nurses into the health service sector and an improvement in national and provincial statistics. This in turn will translate into improved quality of healthcare as well as more accessibility of health care, especially in the rural and underserved areas of the Northern Cape Province.

I also wish to thank the leadership of the college, teachers, doctors, friends and relatives for their support for the past four years to the graduates and being able to share this joyous occasion with them. New friendships were formed that would last well into your futures. Memories were made, hard times were endured and relaxing times were enjoyed. These are the things that kept you as graduates going throughout the past four years.

As the ANC led government of South-Africa, we have an obligation towards the healthcare of our people. In this light, as a response to the call of our people during the April 2009 national elections, health has been prioritized as the one of the five key areas together with crime, education, rural development and job creation for the next five years. In addition, government developed a Ten Point Plan to address the service delivery challenges faced by the health sector. The graduation of these new cadre of health professionals is a direct response to Point three(3) –Improving the Quality of Health services and Point five(5) – Improved Human Resources Planning, Development and Management.

Ladies and gentlemen, nurses play a unique role in realizing the Northern Cape Department’s of Health mandate to deliver quality health services as well as our vision of “Health service excellence for all”. Any shortage experienced in this professional cadre negatively impacts on access and the quality of health care that is enshrined in the country's constitution. Our country and our province needs more supply of skills to sustain and enhance our development. We believe, as the ANC led government, that the training particularly of our young people is critical if we are to achieve our goal of a better life for all.

Nursing Education and Training forms an integral part of the Nursing Strategy where a call for the increase of nursing professionals amongst others is made. Recruitment and retention of nurse educators where career pathing and succession planning is of vital importance. A total of 53 graduates are now venturing into the field of nursing practice and all have already commenced with community service in the Northern Cape districts to address the shortage of nursing personnel. The graduation today is the beginning of another chapter in your lives. You are now responsible for your acts and omissions as dictated by your scope of practice.

We would like to say thank you to Henriette Stockdale Nursing College for teaching, developing, and guiding these students into this kind of nursing – one where other people’s lives are bettered because of their choice to become nurses. I would like to convey my best wishes for the future to all the students gathered here today. I hope that you not only thoroughly enjoyed your time at the College but will profit from your experience and training in the years to come.
In conclusion ladies and gentlemen, this is a special day for students, their families and the College. Your skills as nurses will contribute significantly in our province and country's efforts to promote good health and manage various diseases affecting our communities.
Everyone, I want to leave you with the following quote from Florence Nightingale: "Nursing is an art, and if it is to be made an art, it requires an exclusive devotion, as hard a preparation, as any painter's or sculptor's work."

I wish you all the best in your careers.

Thank you.

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