Freedom Day Reflections
By Dr Stanley Maphosa, NMCF Chief Programmes Officer
Freedom Day celebrates and commemorates the first democratic elections that were held in South Africa on 27 April 1994. These elections were the first post-apartheid national elections that were held in South Africa where anyone could vote regardless of race. Although the country has made remarkable progress since 1994, the triple challenges of inequality, poverty and unemployment the most glaring impediments to the country’s goal of national unity and social cohesion. The commemoration comes at a time when about 65.5 % youths are unemployed. With challenges in Mathematics and Science in schools, there is a systematic exclusion of youths in the jobs of today and of tomorrow. While youths are encouraged to start entrepreneurship initiatives and businesses, there is a general lack of support for capital and sustainability of those businesses. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, various jobs and businesses that were started by youth have been affected.
The South African politics needs to be youthful. The participation of youth in decision making will enable young people to take charge of their lives as key agents of social and economic transformation. Participation is beyond just attending rallies, conferences and events but youth being centred and mainstreamed in all decisions of society. Besides the youth, the Fund works to improve child mortality and curb crimes committed towards children. The death of children before they reach the age of 5 continues to happen in various districts in the country. This happens despite the great policies in place. There is still sexual gender based violence towards children, corporal punishment in schools and bullying that is rife. All these issues affecting children and youth need to be addressed by all the members of society for a better future of this country.
We dare not forget the terrible past from which we have come and educate the children and youths as we commemorate this day. We also remember the many sacrifices that were made by various patriots including youths to ensure the democracy and freedom we enjoy. The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund has the history, legacy and voice to continue to remind society to treat change the way it treats its children and youth as we move to 29 years of independence in 2023.
As we close the first quarter of the fifth anniversary of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital (NMCH), we would like to update our global community of donors, supporters and partners on our hospital’s progress.
Now, the only dedicated children’s hospital in Gauteng and the second in the Southern Africa region, Mr Nelson Mandela’s vision of improving access to healthcare for children will reach yet another milestone.
After officially admitting its first patients on 21 June 2017, the 220-specialist facility operates as a non-profit, academic hospital which provides services to children regardless of their ability to pay. A majority of its services are focused on serving public patients who have limited access to healthcare services.
The hospital is slowly growing its private practice in line with its mixed model of fundraising supported by robust fundraising efforts by its founder, the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund.
NMCH offers the following medical, surgical and supporting services: Cardiology (Interventional and Diagnostic), Renal (including Dialysis), ENT (Ear Nose and Throat), General Surgery, Cardiothoracic Surgery, Neurosurgery, Neurology and Orthopaedic Surgery. These services are supported by the Neonatal and Paediatric Intensive Care Units, Radiology and Anaesthesia.
To strengthen and grow its academic affiliation and training capacity, the hospital has also signed academic agreements with the following universities in the past year: University of Witwatersrand and the University of Johannesburg.
Whilst Covid-19 has had, and continues to have, an adverse impact on activities at the hospital with a staff complement of just over 300, over 11 300 admissions were received at NMCH in the past financial year.
NMCH also started the year with a new Chief Executive Officer, Dr Nonkululeko Boikhutso and Chief Financial Officer, Ms Margaret Amofa who were both officially appointed by the NMCH Board of Directors in December 2021.
Dr Boikhutso will lead the new strategy for the next five-year period which includes positioning NMCH to offer high quality and distinctive market-responsive pediatric health services in South Africa and the broader African continent.
The hospital has also focused on greening efforts with the aim of saving water and electricity at the state-of-the-art facility, an ongoing project which will ensure the environmental sustainability of this facility, for generations to come.
The hospital will commemorate its birthday various activations leading up to June and July, widely known as International Mandela Month.
In April for instance, the hospital will take a moment to commemorate the sterling work by emergency response teams who responded to the devasting fire at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital (approximately 200 metres from NMCH) which resulted in the evacuation of over 100 neonatal babies and their families to NMCH.
Our community will continue to receive regular updates during this special period, leading to the birthday celebrations.
We would like to thank all our donors, partners, supporters, staff, patients and families who have been with us on this journey and as we look forward to marking this great milestone.
For more information contact:
Chief Communications and Marketing Officer
Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund
Specialist: Communications and Marketing
Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund
Telephone: 011 274 5600
South Africa Main Office
P.O. Box 797 Highlands North 2037
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel: (+27) 11 274-5600
Fax (+27) 11 486-3914