Kids’ hospi­tal ful­fills Man­dela dream 3 years af­ter death

Chil­dren’s hospi­tal was a dream-noth­ing but a dream and an idea’

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

Brightly-painted wards and col­or­ful fur­nish­ings are matched by state-of-theart equip­ment and pi­o­neer­ing op­er­at­ing the­atres at a new chil­dren’s hospi­tal in Jo­han­nes­burg hon­or­ing Nel­son Man­dela. Af­ter he led the strug­gle to dis­man­tle apartheid, one of Man­dela’s most cher­ished dreams was to build the first spe­cial­ist pae­di­atric hospi­tal in south­ern Africa. To mark the third an­niver­sary of his death on De­cem­ber 5, and more than 10 years af­ter he con­ceived the idea, the Nel­son Man­dela Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal ad­mits its first pa­tients on De­cem­ber 2.

His dream ma­te­ri­al­ized af­ter a suc­cess­ful bat­tle for funds de­spite the global eco­nomic down­turn and the dif­fi­cul­ties of in­spir­ing donors with­out Man­dela’s charm and iconic pres­ence. “It’s a mir­a­cle, or just short of a mir­a­cle. The chil­dren’s hospi­tal was a dream-noth­ing but a dream and an idea,” Si­bongile Mkha­bela, CEO of the Nel­son Man­dela Chil­dren’s Fund, told AFP on a tour of one of the new wards. Man­dela, who was South Africa’s first post-apartheid pres­i­dent from 1994 - 1999, of­fi­cially started the pro­ject in July 2009 at the site of an old cricket ground.

‘He loved chil­dren’

Much of the fund-rais­ing took place as Man­dela be­came in­creas­ingly frail and un­able to lobby for do­na­tions. “We needed $100 mil­lion (95 mil­lion eu­ros), we had not a penny,” said Mkha­bela. “It was very dif­fi­cult to do it with­out him... ex­tremely dif­fi­cult, but peo­ple were ready to hear us, they could re­late to the vi­sion. “There are a num­ber of ways that you can re­mem­ber Mr Man­dela, he was a states­man. You could build a statue... but at his core, he loved chil­dren.” The 200-bed health­care fa­cil­ity had to com­pete for fund­ing with emer­gency hu­man­i­tar­ian crises in Syria and else­where.

“South Africa was not seen as a big area of need,” Mkha­bela said. Con­struc­tion fi­nally be­gan in 2014 as do­na­tions came in from phi­lan­thropists and busi­nesses in­clud­ing the Bill Gates Foun­da­tion, Kel­logg Foun­da­tion, Is­lamic Re­lief World­wide and South African busi­ness­man Eric Sam­son. Some chil­dren even emp­tied their piggy banks, while or­di­nary South Africans do­nated through a pop­u­lar text mes­sage ap­peal. The hospi­tal logo of an­i­mated faces was de­signed by chil­dren, as was the wall­pa­per in the wards and along the cor­ri­dors.

The three-floor crit­i­cal-care fa­cil­ity will pro­vide can­cer care, kid­ney and lung treat­ment, as well as heart, chest and brain surgery and a range of other ur­gent med­i­cal needs. It will be staffed by 450 pae­di­atric nurses who have been un­der­go­ing train­ing over the past five years and 150 spe­cial­ist doc­tors, in­clud­ing some from Canada’s Hospi­tal for Sick Chil­dren and John Hop­kins Medicine In­ter­na­tional in the US.

Pride and ex­cite­ment

Built on a plot of land cov­er­ing 34,000 square me­ters (370,000 square feet) in the grounds of the Univer­sity of the Wit­wa­ter­srand, the hospi­tal will of­fer free ser­vices to those from poorer back­grounds and only charge those who can af­ford it. It is equipped with a wide ar­ray of ad­vanced equip­ment, in­clud­ing ul­tra-sen­si­tive scan­ners that can de­tect the “mi­nut­est” de­tails and make “di­ag­noses that gen­eral equip­ment might not pick up”, said Joe Se­oloane, the hospi­tal’s pro­ject leader.

“It’s a chil­dren’s hospi­tal and must spe­cial­ize in con­di­tions that are unique to chil­dren. “We are proud and ex­cited that ul­ti­mately, come De­cem­ber 2, we can of­fi­cially say ‘Africa: here is a hospi­tal for those con­di­tions that you thought you need to go to Europe for’.” The hospi­tal will also of­fer video broad­cast­ing so that doc­tors in out­ly­ing ar­eas across south­ern Africa can learn from live op­er­a­tions. It will be Africa’s fifth chil­dren’s hospi­tal: there are two in Egypt, one in Kenya and a Red Cross hospi­tal in Cape Town, all of which were built sev­eral decades ago. The hospi­tal will have a ra­dio sta­tion stream­ing mu­sic into the wards to en­ter­tain the chil­dren and will also of­fer on-site ac­com­mo­da­tion for par­ents.—AFP

JO­HAN­NES­BURG: A pic­ture shows chil­dren pub­lic signs and il­lus­tra­tions on the walls of wards a gen­eral view of the Nel­son Man­dela Chil­dren’s hospi­tal, in Jo­han­nes­burg, that will be in­au­gu­rated on De­cem­ber 2, 2016.

JO­HAN­NES­BURG: A pic­ture shows a gen­eral view of the Nel­son Man­dela Chil­dren’s hospi­tal, in Jo­han­nes­burg, that will be in­au­gu­rated.—AFP pho­tos

JO­HAN­NES­BURG: This file photo shows Nige­rian pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari giv­ing an in­ter­view to Agence France-presse at his ho­tel dur­ing the 25th African Sum­mit in Jo­han­nes­burg.

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