The need for a tertiary paediatric hospital in South Africa is greater than ever and can no longer be ignored, stated Sibongile Mkhabela, CEO of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital Trust at the announcement that Engen Petroleum is contributing R4 million towards the building of a new facility that will carry Madiba’s name.
“Africa carries a disproportionately high paediatric disease burden. Unfortunately, this has not been met with an increase in paediatric health care capacity. The continent continues to lag behind the rest of the world when it comes to taking care of our children. The need for the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital and the level of care it will provide is now even greater,” said Mkhabela.
She added that while progress is being made in children’s healthcare, it was not happening quickly enough. “Thousands of children die unnecessarily every day in Africa. With the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital we have the opportunity to start addressing these issues and to contribute meaningfully to paediatric care in Africa.”
Making the announcement at a function in Johannesburg, the Managing Director and CEO of Engen, Datuk Nizam Salleh, said that the African energy company was humbled to contribute towards the building of the specialist paediatric facility, which, once completed, will be one of only five dedicated children's hospitals on the continent.
Engen’s R4m contribution will be used to build the paediatric surgical wards, and so facilitate the provision of medical, surgical and nursing care for children across the continent.
Datuk Salleh added that Madiba’s love and care of children is well known. “Ensuring that every single child on the continent has access to effective health care is something Madiba has long dreamed about. Engen shares his sentiment. This has made it easy for us to pledge our support to bring his vision to fruition,” Datuk Salleh said.
“Engen is a caring company and we continue to invest in the communities in which we operate. We trust that our contribution will make a real difference to children in need, by making world class health care easily accessible to them,” added Datuk Salleh.
“Engen is privileged to play a very small role in this, and we are humbled to think about what the hospital can deliver for our children. “
In closing Datuk Salleh referred to a tribute to Nelson Mandela from the Children of South Africa, compiled by Tyne Doyle, which is a book that subtly illustrates the impact of Nelson Mandela’s moral conviction on future generations, as well as his inspirational leadership style. Children were asked what they had learned from Nelson Mandela and why. Koira, aged 12, responded: “I have learned to try, try and try again, because he went from prisoner to president.”
In this succinct and thoughtful reply the essence of not only the man, but what can be achieved by South Africans is highlighted. We all have the ability, if given the chance, to rise above our circumstances. This hospital will provide many with the ability to do just that, he said.