Media release: Plans to restore and re-launch Addington children's hospital as the KwaZulu-Natal children's hospital to be unveiled

DATE: 14 JULY 2010

The last fortress of apartheid health, the old Addington Children’s Hospital on Durban’s beachfront will give life to a new KwaZulu-Natal Children’s Hospital. This landmark project will be launched by the MEC for Health on behalf of the KwaZulu-Natal government on Thursday, 15 July 2010.

“The healthy growth and development of children is crucial to the future of this province and country. Health and wellbeing are an integral part of the child’s right to life, survival and development. The principle of human rights is universal and each child, including the adolescent, is entitled to fundamental rights and freedom. Our government’s mandate is universal, as enshrined in our Constitution. It calls for equity: the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, and political belief, economic or social condition” says the MEC, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo

Eight decades ago, after World War I, the dream of a specialist children’s hospital in South Africa became a reality when a team of Durban citizens decided to create a children’s hospital as a living memorial to youth and life through the alleviation of childhood diseases and suffering. This dream was filled with determination, passion and commitment of an ensemble of great visionaries following the loss of life of a small schoolboy from dysentery in 1923, due to the lack of specialist facilities for children. This motivated Councillor Mary Siedle to set up a fundraising committee which raised money from large and small donations for almost a decade to construct the first Children’s Hospital in the history of South Africa in 1931. At the end of World War Two, a new Out-Patients section was created which brought children from a wider spectrum of class and ethnic backgrounds to the hospital.

By 1971, rising battles between Province and City Health Authorities to keep the Hospital under their control. meant that the doctors, nurses, and specialists that dedicated their work to child health and services were coming under threat. In 1971 the theatres were closed under the guise of “budget cuts and savings”, and at this time of so-called “high Apartheid” the needs of even White children were placed in a secondary position to the louder voices of centralised planning and management-driven care. When, in 1979 the doors of the Children’s Hospital were open to ‘children of colour’ on a large- scale for the first time, this exacerbated tensions and debates about the future of the Hospital with planners and managers. In 1985 a “one man” Commission, was appointed to look into “the future of the Durban Children’s Hospital” and in 1984, at the peak of the huge combined internal and international struggle against Apartheid, the wards of the Children’s Hospital were closed. However, there were still those in the medical and nursing profession who were prepared to risk their careers, freedom and the possibility of imprisonment to follow their moral beliefs by continuing to treat those in need; without prejudice and with personal cost and risk. These are the unsung heroes in health care and the provincial government honours and recognises their unwavering commitment in 2010, with the launch of a new vision for the Children’s Hospital .

Journalists are invited to be part of this historic event to be held as follows;

Date : 15 July 2010 (Thursday)
Time : 09H00-11H00
Venue : Old Addington Children’s Hospital, Next to Addington Hospital

There will be a laying of hands by partners to cement the new vision for the KwaZulu-Natal Children’s Hospital. They will do this next to the statement:

“Discarded in the past,
Healed by the present,
For the future,
With love,”

The media will have an opportunity to ask questions of all partners present at the function.

083 285 0567


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