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Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital launch honours Madiba

The Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital Trust launched the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital, a dedicated paediatric hospital in Parktown on 2 December. PHOTOS: Supplied

The Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital Trust launched the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital, a dedicated paediatric hospital in Parktown on 2 December. PHOTOS: Supplied

In South Africa, the tertiary paediatric care sector has the biggest backlog with many children passing away while waiting for treatment and surgery. On 2 December the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital Trust (NMCHT) launched the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital, a specialist, referral only, dedicated paediatric hospital in Parktown, Johannesburg to address this issue and honour Madiba’s legacy.

Graça Machel, chairperson of NMCHT, says there are approximately 450 million children and youth on the African continent but only four specialised children’s hospitals on the continent with two in Egypt, one in Nairobi and one in Cape Town. She says NMCH will be a 200-bed facility upon opening, built on the campus of the University of Witwatersrand on land donated by the university in 2009, and later expansion will allow the hospital to accommodate up to 300 beds.

“NMCH will provide highly specialised tertiary care typically treating complex and sometimes rare conditions and will comprise of seven Centres of Excellence engaged in treatment and research in Haematology, Oncology, Pulmonology, Cardiology, Craniofacial, Renal, General paediatric surgery. The total cost of constructing, equipping and staffing the hospital is estimated at R1 billion and NMCH will employ approximately 150 doctors, 451 paediatric nursing professionals and allied services.

The total cost of constructing, equipping and staffing the hospital is estimated at R1 billion.

The total cost of constructing, equipping and staffing the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital is estimated at R1 billion.

“NMCH will also be an academic hospital engaged in training and research to build the capacity of the specialised care sector in South and Southern Africa. Training and skills development is an important part of the hospital mandate as there is a shortage of paediatric specialists,” she says.

According to Machel, NMCH will serve both private and public patients and patients must be referred to the hospital by appropriate healthcare workers in the public and private sector. She says NMCH will also accommodate out-patients, who can receive treatment without needing to be admitted and kept at hospital in areas of excellence the hospital will specialise in.

“Financial status will not be a consideration for admission, only clinical criteria will be taken into account. The referral and admission process will stipulate these criteria clearly and strict supervision over the process will ensure it is executed correctly,” says Machel.

Sibongile Mkhabela, chief executive officer of NMCHT, who spearheaded the business case development, feasibility study, design, construction and commissioning of the hospital over the past 11 years, says a key part of their vision is to build paediatric healthcare capacity and they will therefore open the facility in phases. She says they are in the process of completing the equipment commissioning phase and recruitment processes.

“As we build our team, we will also be testing our business processes and systems. When we are satisfied the first patient can be safely admitted, we will begin accepting patients, mainly in for dialysis and radiology treatments,” she says.

Nana Makgomola, deputy chairperson of the NMCHT, says the construction of the hospital began on 22 April 2014 with the shell completed in June 2016 and the building is currently being fitted out and equipped in preparation for opening in the second quarter of 2017. She says the launch marks the transition from planning and construction towards the start of operations that will significantly improve Southern Africa’s capacity to provide ultra-specialised paediatric care.

“For all of us who knew Madiba, we knew he was happiest when he was healing little hearts and this is a continuation of his love and commitment to the welfare of South African children. It is another great milestone as we walk this path of hope and change together,” she says.