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If we value children, let’s take care of them. This was the message at a briefing on the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital, on which construction is due to start in August.

The 200-bed facility, a Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund project, will join only four other children’s hospitals in Africa and will be a specialist referral facility built on the Wits University campus.

“We pay lip service to children. We say they are our future… but in actual fact, they fall short of the cake,” said Professor Keith Bolton, head of paediatrics at Rahima Moosa Women and Children’s Hospital and lead clinician of the new hospital.

The hospital was the brainchild of Nelson Mandela and has taken eight years of planning to get to this stage.

Although it will be a private facility and will be managed privately, the national Health Department has committed itself to cover the core operating costs of the hospital, meaning no patient will be turned away.

Bolton said the hospital would focus on specialised areas and be a central hub for paediatric surgeons. Other focuses will be ontology, cardiology, neurosciences, adolescence, urology as well as neonatal, general and surgical ICUs.

Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital Trust CEO Bongi Mkhabele said the staff had interviewed mothers, children and doctors to gain insight into what they felt a children’s hospital needed.

Neighbouring countries will also benefit, as they will be able to refer patients to the hospital, send doctors for fellowships or receive advice from experts at the hospital.

The hospital will cost R1 billion to construct, of which the fund has raised R200 million to far.

The fund is calling on South Africans, from children through to corporates, to donate even the smallest amount towards the funding of this project.

The hospital aims to admit its first patient on July 18, 2014.

More info at www.nelsonman