Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital by the numbers

The Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital (NMCH) in Parktown, Johannesburg, is one of the greatest legacy projects in the former president’s name. It will begin accepting patients this year. Here’s a look at the difference it will make in South Africa, and Africa.

(Image: Mathiba Molefe)

Becoming the president of a new South Africa was not an easy walk to freedom for Nelson Mandela, yet when he died in 2013 he had changed the world into which he was born. He created a South Africa that believed in peace, tolerance and equality.

He is remembered as a beloved leader who lived his belief in reconciliation and not as the fiery young leader who advocated violence as a credible option. This legacy lives on in the charitable work he began and that his foundation continues today.

One of the greatest and most important legacy projects is the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital (NMCH) in Parktown, Johannesburg. It will begin accepting patients this year. We look at the difference it will make in South Africa, and Africa.

The Symba Paediatric Hospital Bed

Patients at the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital will be in beds designed and manufactured in South Africa. The Symba Bed is the brainchild of engineer Jed Aylmer and his team at Praestet, a local medical design company.

Designed for children from the age of six months to six years, the bed is completely transparent and accessible from all sides. Lacking the usual metal bars of hospital beds, it is meant to make children feel like they are in bed at home.

Aylmer designed the bed as his final year product design course project. The University of Johannesburg graduate was looking for something that would satisfy doctors and nurses while still being functional. “I wanted to consider some very important things — how to combine my passion for product and design with business and to create something that makes your heart feel good.”

The name of the new bed is taken from the story The Lion, the Hare and the Tortoise. It is, Aylmer told the hospital’s website, a story he read in Nelson Mandela’s Favourite Folktales. “The lion’s name is Simba — I thought this was so appropriate for the way the child should feel. They should get better and stronger in a Symba.”

Symba has high-quality casters and eight accessory ports where medical equipment such as oxygen tanks and drip stands can be attached to the bed. This simple idea makes it easier to move the bed around the hospital.

The bed is constructed in South Africa with 98% of its parts sourced locally. Praestet provides maintenance services as well.

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