Nobel Peace Prize laureate Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first democratic president, was known for his deep and abiding love for children. In 2005, deeply distressed by the lack of specialized care available for sick children, he asked his own charitable foundation, the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, to explore the status of pediatric health care in the country. The result was the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital, which will open later this year in Johannesburg.
There are simply not enough specialized pediatric facilities on the continent. With almost 450 million children living in the region and only four dedicated pediatric hospitals, there is a pressing need to close this critical health care gap. In contrast, there are 23 children’s hospitals in Canada, 19 in Australia and 20 in Germany, according to the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund.
The Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital is only the second of its kind in South Africa, after the Red Cross Children’s Hospital in Cape Town, and will have 200 beds available. It will finally realize the late president’s dream to bring health care to Southern Africa’s children regardless of race, socio-economic status or the ability to pay, and will provide specialized care which is not available at general hospital facilities.
The hospital, owned by the Nelson Mandela Children’s Trust, has the support of several corporate partners, including GE, which donated $1 million through its foundation. Running costs – including medicines and salaries – will be met by South Africa’s health department, but continuous fundraising on the part of the trust is required to keep the hospital’s offering up to date.
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