Mandela's Dream

Mandela’s dream of a state of the art children’s hospital is very near fruition as SA prepares to mark the third anniversary of his death on December 5.

The Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital is scheduled to admit its first patients on the 2nd of December.

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The Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital is a new children’s hospital in Johannesburg honoring Nelson Mandela. It matches colorful wards and beautiful waiting areas with state-of-the-art equipment and pioneering operating theaters.

A specialist pediatric hospital, the first in southern Africa, had been Mandela’s dream and it is coming to pass three years after his death and over 13 years since he first conceived the idea.

Mandela's Dream

The admission of the hospital’s first patients on December 2 is ahead of the anniversary of Mandela’s death on December 5. Mandela’s dream for the hospital had been realized following a successful battle for funds undertaken in the period of a global economic downturn where it was pretty difficult to inspire donors.

CEO of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, Sibongile Mkhabela, told AFP on a tour of one of the new wards that;

“It’s a miracle, or just short of a miracle. The children’s hospital was a dream — nothing but a dream and an idea,”

Mandela had actually started the project in July 2009 at the site of an old cricket ground but a bulk of the fund-raising had to be undertaken as Mandela became increasingly frail and was unable to lobby for donations.

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Sibongile Mkhabela said;

“We needed $100 million (95 million euros), we had not a penny,”.

“It was very difficult to do it without him… extremely difficult, but people were ready to hear us, they could relate to the vision.”

The achievement is truly a laudable one considering the fact that the 200-bed healthcare facility had to compete for funding with emergency humanitarian crises in Syria and elsewhere.

Construction officially began in 2014 with donations coming in from both businesses and charities like South African businessman Eric Samson, the Bill Gates Foundation, and Kellogg Foundation.

Mandela's Dream

The hospital is expected to provide cancer care, kidney and lung treatment, as well as heart, chest and brain surgery and a range of other urgent medical needs and will be staffed by 450 pediatric 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.

The hospital is also expected to offer free services to those from poorer backgrounds and only charge those who can afford it.

The Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital will be Africa’s fifth children’s hospital. Currently, there are two in Egypt, one in Kenya and a Red Cross hospital in Cape Town, all of which were built several decades ago.