President Nelson Mandela believed there can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.
Our children are our future, and it is with this vision firmly in mind that the development of the R1 billion Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital in Parktown, Johannesburg takes a step closer to completion. To date, R790 million has already been donated towards the state-of-the-art, specialist facility, which is set to open in December 2016.
“Construction of this life-saving facility began on 22 April 2014 and we are extremely excited to be nearing completion and look forward to opening the hospital at the end of 2016. We remain encouraged by the support we have received from so many in the private sector. But there is more to be done in our bid to bring hope to the lives of children across the SADC region, and we encourage the private sector and all individual citizens to open their hearts and support the future progress of the hospital that will change the landscape for children’s specialist medical treatment across Africa,” says Nana Magomola, Deputy Chairperson of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital Trust. The new hospital will be a 200-bed specialised paediatric hospital located on the campus of the University of Witwatersrand on land donated in 2009. Expansion to 300 beds has been included in the design of the hospital, which will feature Centres of Excellence in Haematology, Oncology, Pulmonology, Cardiology, Craniofacial, Renal and general Paediatric Surgery; the academic platform of which will be overseen by, but not exclusive to the University of the Witwatersrand.
Currently, there are only four specialised children’s hospitals on the African continent – two in Egypt, one in Nairobi and one in Cape Town. This is compared to 23 in Canada, 19 in Australia, 20 in Germany and 157 in the US.
According to the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (Unicef), about 29 000 children around the world under the age of five – 21 each minute – die every day, mainly from preventable causes. This is why Millennium Development Goal 4 is aimed at reducing child mortality by two-thirds.
Of particular concern is sub-Saharan Africa, which has the highest risk of death in the first month of life and is among the regions showing the least progress. More than 490 000 children under five died from pneumonia alone last year in sub-Saharan Africa, according to Unicef statistics. It is the children of this region, extending across the entire SADC that the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital will focus on assisting and ultimately, the desire is that not even a single child needing specialist care will be turned away.
“All children have a right of access to quality, affordable and accessible healthcare to fulfil their potential, and this is why General Electric Healthcare (GEHC) is accelerating the completion of specialized children’s hospitals, in addition to secondary and tertiary facilities across Africa. GEHC is committed to healthcare delivery across the continent, by not only supplying much-needed medical equipment, but also offering tailored end-to-end solutions to ensure long term sustainable impact. Our approach includes hospital planning to optimize space and technology, the establishment of healthcare training and education centres, skills transfer initiatives and support in the governance of public and private facilities,” says Farid Fezoua (President and CEO – GEHC: Africa, Sustainable Healthcare Solutions).
GEHC’s collaboration with the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital Trust and Standard Bank highlights the importance of private sector assistance in achieving the establishment of long term sustainable healthcare on the continent. “As Africa’s largest bank by assets, Standard Bank sees Africa as our home and we are committed to her growth and also concerned about her future. This is why we will continue to seek collaborative partnerships to support worthy causes that assist in securing a bold, vibrant future for the continent we love so much, and for her children. We are really pleased to work alongside GE in support of the vision that NMCH inspires,” said David Munro, Chief Executive, Corporate and Investment Banking at Standard Bank.