South Africa’s infant mortality rate is 30 in every 1 000, and the private sector is ramping up its efforts to help realise the intention of the National Development Plan (NDP) to bring this number down.
The NDP seeks to reduce the rate of infant mortality by a third, bringing it down to 20 in 1 000, by partnering with the private sector and bringing resources and skills to where they are needed most.
In the wake of a donation by the Carte Blanche Making a Difference Trust of two state-of-the-art paediatric theatres to Frere Hospital in Eastern Cape, the number of children who are able to receive the treatment and care they need has increased dramatically.
In bringing the facilities to this area and others like it countrywide, the trust has partnered with a number of organisations, such as the Hollard Foundation, an independent trust set up by the Hollard Insurance Group.
“Hollard is committed to assisting government in achieving the goals set out in the National Development Plan”, said Nic Kohler, Hollard group chief executive. “We realise the importance for children and society of investing in a child’s foundation years – from birth to age nine – and so our (corporate social investment) focus is on the health, nutrition and education needs of children in this age group.
“These children are now being afforded the chance of reaching their full potential in life – something Hollard is very passionate about.”
The doors to the first dedicated paediatric facility in the region opened in October 2014; since then more than 300 children have received surgery. The waiting period for surgery has been cut by five months, and the chances of the children reaching adulthood have greatly increased.
“These operating theatres not only allow us to save lives but also to improve the quality of the life of that child because we are intervening sooner,” said Frere Hospital chief executive Dr Rolene Wagner.
COMMITMENT TO THE FUTURE
The insurance group recently increased its annual contribution to the Hollard Foundation from R10-million to R15-million and more of its resources have been dedicated to supporting early childhood development (ECD) initiatives.
One such project is the Kago Ya Bana programme in Midvaal, the product of a partnership between the Midvaal Municipality and the Gauteng departments of social development and education.
Kohler said his company hoped its efforts would help the government to serve its residents and fulfil its commitment to the terms of the Children’s Act. “In doing so, we hope to provide a blueprint for other municipalities to do the same, thereby leading to real, systemic change.
“It is through public-private partnerships that we see the development of solutions to the challenges that our country faces… It is our mission to be a catalyst for positive and enduring change, using our influence to harness resources way beyond those which we directly control.”