Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital to ‘bring back’ doctors from overseas

2012-07-18 09:30

The Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital (NMCH), which is expected to open by 2014, plans to recruit about 655 specialist doctors and nurses.

It’s an ambitious number of professionals, acknowledged Nana Magomola, deputy chairperson of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital Trust.

However, she said: “We are hoping to attract back the nurses and doctors who are now working overseas.”

For more than five decades South African children who needed complicated medical surgery had to be referred to the only paediatric hospital in the country, the Red Cross Children’s Hospital in Cape Town.

For poor families, especially those who lived in inland provinces and were far away from the Western Cape, it was an expensive exercise that often never materialised.

Fortunately this will soon change when the NMCH, which will be built at a cost of R1 billion, becomes the country’s second children’s hospital.

The 200-bed facility will specialise in cancer, heart defects, kidney failure, complex birth defects and general paediatric surgery.

Construction will begin next month and is expected to be completed in early 2014.

Although the hospital will be in Gauteng and closer to most inland provinces – North West, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the Free State – Magomola said: “It will cater for all children living in South Africa and neighbouring countries.

“Even children who live in Cape Town will be welcomed at the NMCH. As a referral public hospital we have a policy not to turn away any child including those who have medical aids.”

Professor Keith Bolton, head of the department of paediatrics at Rahima Moosa Mother & Child Hospital said: “The NMCH is a concept whose time has come.

“There are hundreds of children with surgically correctable heart defects who are awaiting treatment and many die or deteriorate on the waiting list. The main limitation in our current situation in the public sector is the provision of suitable ICU beds for pre- and post-operative care for these children,” he explained.

Bolton attributed the shortage of ICU beds to the limited number of paediatric nurses.

Magomola said: “One of the reason behind NMCH was to address such issues.

“No child should die while waiting to get treatment just because there are no medical personnel to treat and care for him. As such we have partnered with the University of Witwatersrand to train paediatric nurses before and after the opening of the hospital,” Magomola said.

She said: “Nurses are the backbone of any hospital and if we want to be a centre of excellence in South Africa we need to have the best staff available.”

Bolton shared the same sentiments. “The need to train appropriate children’s doctors is important but the acute need to train nurses in these domains is even more of a priority.”

The building of the NMCH will bring the total number of paediatric hospitals in Africa to four.

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