By Banthu Times Reporter 18/12/2013

President Dr Joyce Banda who is dubbed Africa’s most powerful and influential woman has accepted a request from the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital Trust to serve as a Champion and Patron of the Institution.image

The Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital Trust was established in 1995 and is the first charity the late Mandela established after being inaugurated as President of South Africa. Nelson Mandela on Day After Release

In 2007, Mr Mandela challenged his wife Graca Machel, who is the chairperson of the Trust, and Trustees of the Fund, to expand the trust’s activities into children’s health with a view to offer children of southern Africa a state of the art hospital. There is a huge demand for paediatric specialty in Africa which has only four dedicated children’s hospitals serving almost one billion people. Of this figure 430 million are children.

Construction of the Hospital commenced in August this year and the facility will open its doors towards the end of 2015.image

Other Champions and Patrons include Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.

Accepting the appointment, President Banda said it is with profound humility and pleasure that she has accepted the role conferred upon her at this given time.

“It will be my honour to contribute to the realisationone of the visions of President Nelson Mandela,” the President said on December 4, 2013. Mandela died the following day.

The project will cost R750 million to design, build and equip. Half of the capital costs will be secured through a bridging loan from local institutions to be repaid through fundraising efforts and funds received from private patients admitted to the hospital.

Meanwhile South African President Jacob Zuma has pledged his government’s support to champion the project. Government will also fund the operating costs of the public patients treated at the hospital.