Ten years since he conceived the idea and 3 years since his death, one of Mandela’s most cherished dreams has come to fruition – the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital.
After leading the anti-apartheid struggle, Mandela’s next big objective was reportedly to build the first specialist paediatric hospital in southern Africa.
It has taken quite a long time since he conceived the idea but now the three-floor critical-care facility is ready to admit its first patients.
The facility in Johannesburg, will be opened on December 2 a few days before the commemoration of the third anniversary of Madiba’s death.
But it hasn’t been a smooth run – getting this facility to where it is now.
Construction started in 2014 but raising funds for the project became difficult with the global economic downturn and the absence of Mandela’s charm to inspire donors to give.
“We needed a $100 million, we had not a penny, so we then had to go out and find money, we could not get banks to finance us because there is no way that we could pay back,” explained Sibongile Mkhabela, the CEO of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund.
“So we went looking for people who were going to donate but we have marketed it, and that’s what it is, as a shared legacy and we ask asked those people who wanted to share in the Mandela legacy and they would then see that sharing in the naming of various facilities.”
Seeing the facility completed for her is “a miracle, or just short of a miracle. The children’s hospital was a dream … nothing but a dream and an idea,” Mkhabela told AFP.
With the hospital on the verge of getting operational, Mkhabela explained the hospital will “be dealing with heart and heart issues, surgical and so on – it’s basically a surgical hospital. Most of the children who will come here will be surgical patients. It works on kidney, it works on issues of bone marrow, cancers among children – all of those at a much higher level of complication.”
She also explained that the intention is “not so much to have every child in the sub-region come here but to train enough for the sub-region to benefit from the training.”
The Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital will be manned by 450 paediatric nurses and 150 specialist doctors including some from John Hopkins Medicine International in the US.