“This hospital has been 11 years in the making and it’s been great for me to see it taking shape,” says Waseem Ahmad. “Islamic Relief is proud to have funded the oncology unit, providing a lifeline for children with cancer when the African continent has so few specialist facilities.
“We’re also privileged to be associated with such a state-of-the-art facility whose services are so badly needed, and to be part of such a fitting tribute to Nelson Mandela.
“As the anniversary of his death approaches on December 5, what better way to celebrate his life and all that he stood for than to launch the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital – a beacon of hope for the children of South Africa for decades to come.
“Islamic Relief’s large donation to this important project would not have been possible without the big-hearted generosity of Muslim communities around the world.
“The ethos of the hospital reflects the ethos of Islamic Relief itself – we help vulnerable people where the need is greatest, regardless of race or religion.”
Centres of Excellence
As well as the oncology unit funded by Islamic Relief, the new 200-bed hospital has centres of excellence in cardiology and cardiothoracic surgery; haemotology; nephrology; pulmonology; craniofacial surgery; neurosciences; and general paediatric surgery. The first young patients are expected through its doors for dialysis and radiology treatments in the New Year.
Islamic Relief has committed $7.7m (110m ZAR) to solely support the hospital’s oncology unit. It is a facility that will set the standard for modern child-centred healthcare facilities. Its features include a bone marrow transplant facilities and laboratory; intensive care and high-care beds; a dedicated pharmacy; and a radiology facility.
According to recent figures from the CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation, one in 600 children in South Africa is affected by cancer before the age of 16. Yet more than 40 per cent of South African children with cancer never receive specialist treatment. There are only four specialist children’s hospitals on the entire African continent, compared to about 20 in the UK. The Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital (NMCH) will help change these grim statistics.