Mandela wish finally comes true
Former president Nelson Mandela walked into businessman Moss Ngoasheng's office about six years ago and said: "There is one more thing we need to do. We need to build a children's hospital."
Madiba's wish came true yesterday when the Nelson Mandela Children's Hospital Trust - of which Ngoasheng is a member - announced plans to build a R1-billion state-of-the-art facility .
It has taken six years of planning and yesterday the trust launched a public campaign to raise money for the construction, due to begin in August.
"One in five of our children has a complex health condition. This hospital will fill a huge gap in the healthcare system and complement other paediatric hospitals," said Sibongile Mkhabela, CEO of the trust.
Trust manager Pat v an der Merwe said the trust had raised R200-million from private and corporate donors since January in a quiet campaign.
It hopes to raise R300-million before August when building starts.
There are only four children's hospitals in Africa, including Cape Town's Red Cross War Memorial Hospital. Australia has 19 and Germany 20, according to the trust.
"A recent Unicef report on children shows that South Africa does not treat its children well. This hospital is a statement of how South Africa will treat its children," said Mkhabela.
The Nelson Mandela Children's Hospital will be in Parktown on the Wits University education campus, between Wits Medical School and Charlotte Maxeke Hospital.
A specialised, tertiary hospital treating children with serious illnesses, it will have between 200 and 300 beds.
It will be run as a public-private partnership with private funding covering construction and staff costs and the government paying the operational costs.
Lead doctor in the project team, Professor Keith Bolton, who heads the paediatric unit at Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital, said doctors will be paid government provincial rates to moderate costs.
"As the government focused on primary healthcare in recent years, tertiary care fell off the table. There are only 24 registered paediatric surgeons in the country, which is absolutely inadequate. We can now centralise our efforts and train more surgeons," Bolton said.