Professor Kieth Bolton speaking at the Nelson Mandela children's hospital media briefing. Picture:Refilwe Modise

Noni Mokati

A FUNDRAISING campaign for the much-anticipated Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital (NMCH) started this week.

The hospital, due to open in 2014, is set to cost R1 billion for construction and up to R400 million in operational costs per year.

Since the dedication of the site in 2009, the children’s foundation has raised R200m and needs R800m more.

NMCH trustee Moses Moshaeng said: “We have decided to take an unconventional approach to fundraising this time. Instead of asking companies to donate a certain amount of money, we want to turn things around. We want CEOs to tell us what the hospital means to them and how they can help to ensure that every child is healthy.”

Moshaeng said one of the mandates the foundation had been given by its founder, former president Nelson Mandela, was that the hospital had to be held in high regard, because it was meant to revive and heal children. Moshaeng said up to 480 million children in sub-Saharan Africa needed tertiary healthcare and the foundation didn’t want the project conducted on a mediocre level.

“We do not want to drag Nelson Mandela’s name through the mud. This is why we are adamant to stick to our deadlines and work hard. We don’t want to turn this into another white elephant.”

He said the foundation didn’t want to manage the hospital and company bids were invited.

Only two reputable hospitals in the SADC region cater for children’s needs.

In SA alone, bed shortages, lack of adequate equipment and the shortage of nurses have hampered the public health-care system.

Professor Keith Bolton, an NMCH trustee and paediatrician at Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital, said a premature child died daily due to a lack of intensive-care unit beds. Bolton said a 20 percent bed capacity did not exist at most hospitals.

He said despite inequalities in the health-care system, SA was making strides. One of the public health-care sector’s accomplishments was a decrease in the prevention of mother-to-child in HIV infections.

He said unlike before, HIV/Aids organ transplants were now possible and this meant many children could be saved.

Bolton said medical personnel were already being trained in time for the hospital’s opening.

The hospital site is at the Joburg College of Education in Braamfontein.

The facility is described as a state-of-the-art paediatric and tertiary referral hospital that will provide quality medical services for children in the SADC region irrespective of their social or economic status.