The ground-breaking ceremony for the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital is only weeks away.

Work is set to to begin at the site at Wits Medical School in Parktown next month.

After months of delays due to lack of funding, this week the board announced the ceremony would take place on March 20

Hospital chief executive Sibongile Mkhabela said management was excited to have reached this point.

“The fact that we have R550 million that allows us to break ground is astounding,” she said.

She said the hospital was the best way for Mandela to continue to “heal little hearts”.

Mkhabela emphasised the hospital was not owned by the Nelson Mandela Foundation but by the community. She encouraged every citizen to do their bit for the hospital.

“Imagine if everyone contributed R500 what a difference that would make.”

A total of R1 billion is needed to build the hospital, a lifelong dream of Mandela.

The state-of-the-art paediatric facility is set to have 200 beds, with plans to increase the number to 300.

It will help patients from countries within SADC region.

The Department of Health previously said it would handle the hospital’s annual operating expenses – up to R400m a year. Minister Aaron Motsoaledi recently said the department was still committed to providing the funding.

Earlier this month, philanthropic organisation GE Foundation donated $1m (R10.8m) to build the hospital.

The donation was part of its commitment to invest in improving access to quality, affordable health care in southern African countries.

Saturday Star