The Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital (NMCH), in Parktown, Johannesburg, launched last week, will host a number of centres of excellence for paediatric care.
Polity reports that this includes the cardiology and cardiothoracic surgery ward, an oncology and haemotology ward, a renal ward, a pulmonology ward, general paediatric surgery, a craniofacial ward and a neurosciences ward.
Built at a cost of R1bn, the hospital has 200 beds and ten theatres and can treat up to 2,500 patients a month. The top floor of the hospital has 27 rooms to ensure that parents can stay with their children.
The hospital believed in keeping families together, as “there is healing in family”, said NMCH interim CEO and board member Joe Seoloane, who explained that while the hospital worked on a referral basis, children whose families could not afford treatment would not be turned away.
Further, he explained that the hospital, while not focused on emergency cases, did have an emergency ward with four beds. Here, children would be stabilised and then be transferred to another hospital for further care.
The report says the land for the hospital was donated by the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) and Wits Vice-Chancellor Adam Habib said the hospital would act as a training ground for “some of the best peadiatric specialists”.
Also speaking at the launch, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi highlighted that the hospital was only the fifth of its kind on the continent. “It is the newest and the most advanced of its kind,” he said, adding that the only other paediatric hospital in South Africa, the Red Cross in Cape Town, was built 60 years ago.
Motsoaledi added that other countries had much higher numbers of paediatric hospitals. Australia has 19 and the US 175. “There is a need for this hospital,” he stressed. He also pointed out that the hospital would tackle the paediatric skills shortage the country was facing, noting that South Africa had only ten registered paeditratic cardiologists and only seven paediatric oncologists.
The report says the facility, which was funded, among others, by the Industrial Development Corporation, is set to open its doors in February 2017.
The new state-of-the-art children’s hospital built in memory of former president Nelson Mandela is proof that South Africa is on a good path, former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke said.
News24 reports that speaking at the launch, Moseneke – who is one of the executors of Mandela’s estate – said that the country’s struggles were larger than “one leader’s term of office”. “We need men and women of courage and vision. This hospital is a reminder to all of us that there is a place for hard work, for excellence, for honesty, for doing good things, for giving and not taking,” he said.
Moseneke said that the former president went out to find donors and raise money for the hospital and never approached South Africa’s Treasury for funding. He is quoted in a Polity report as saying: “This hospital reminds us there is a place for honesty, good governance and a place for giving and not taking.”
“Mandela was for giving and more giving … he never said Dikgang, lets get money from the Treasury, he never did that … instead he would leave to visit the East, which he said had too much money, and would come back with cheques in the pockets of his jacket. That is our Mandela and his way of doing things. He never took a cent of the money for himself. As a person very close to him I think I can say thank you to everyone on behalf of him.”
The report says at least R800m was finally raised to fund construction and equipment of the hospital, from big donors to school children raising funds through their piggy banks. Construction started in 2014, with local and international partners getting on board.
Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund CEO Sibongile Mkhabela said the hospital would also cover the rest of the Southern African Development Community region, and that no child would be turned away because parents cannot afford to pay.