On the 5th March, just a few short months ago, as I write this note, the first COVID-19 patient was identified and confirmed in South Africa. With that confirmation, South Africa was pitched into battle against a virus from afar that had already caused havoc across Asia and Europe, and was heading into the Americas. The battle to be fought was clear from what we saw unfold in those territories: hospitals were overrun, staff in hospitals were under tremendous stress, and the full tragedy of the suffering of people was plain to see.
When the virus arrived in our country, in other words, our nurses, doctors, hospitals staff, regulators and legislators, and our leadership at all levels and across sector, knew full well what we faced. Yet no one flinched; no one fled; no one raised the white flag. Our nurses, specialists, doctors, cleaning staff, front desk personnel – everyone – responded magnificently, even putting themselves on the line, every day.
Our healthcare heroes left their families at night and at daybreak to don protective gear, to treat the afflicted, and to comfort the sick and affected and their families. Tragically, many have been lost in the struggle. They have given their lives to protect us, and our families. Through them, we have stood firm against the virus so that we can greet a new day and return to treating the ill and infirm. To those we have lost, we will never forget you. We will remember you. Your sacrifice, like a seed blown into the soil by an unkind and capricious wind, will yield a strong tree under which generations to come will find rest. You are, always and forever, in our hearts.
Dr Biren Valodia, Chairman of the Board
On behalf of the private hospitals of South Africa
- WS Merwin
- Marl Manson
- Health Minister Zweli Mkhize
- Maya Angelo