To dream is everyone’s right: to dream of a better future, to know that you are cared for. The dream of Dr Arthi Ramkissoon was to inspire like-minded people to come together and help realise the dreams of millions of children in KwaZulu-Natal. Simple dreams: of better health, exceptional care and a good quality of life.
Opened in 1931, the KwaZulu-Natal Children’s Hospital (then known as the Addington Children’s Hospital), the first of its kind in Africa, was specifically established to provide for the care and treatment of children. Subsequently, having been shut down by the Apartheid government in 1984 because it offered services to children of colour, the hospital fell into disrepair. It was in 2010 through the vision of Dr Arthi Ramkissoon that the dream was reignited and the possibility of a world-class hospital for the children of the KwaZulu-Natal became a reality.
Tragically, Arthi succumbed to Covid-19 in January 2021. She leaves behind a legacy of excellence in child health much needed by the province, with 34% of the population under 14 years old. In her tenure as CEO of the KwaZulu-Natal Children’s Hospital Trust, she spearheaded fundraising in excess of R100 million, which paved the way for substantial progress for the re-establishment project. This includes the refurbishment of the Old Outpatients Building, which houses a multi-disciplinary Neurodevelopment Assessment Centre, a regional training centre, and office space for clinical staff and the Trust. Renovations have also been done to the roof and external facade of both the main Old Children’s Hospital and the Old Nurses’ Home buildings and a new 7 000 square metre basement, including parking for 120 cars, and a basement structure designed to allow for a future six-storey medical building, have been built. More recently, additional progress on the project includes a new psychology centre, a centre for adolescent health, and a world first Covid-19 isolation facility specially designed for children and parents.
As each section is completed, the Trust hands over the facility to the Department of Health for operational use. To date, this successful public-private partnership has resulted in 25 000 children having received treatment and care at the Neurodevelopment Assessment Centre. “The KZN Children’s Hospital is a centre of excellence which offers specialised medical care for children with special needs such as epilepsy, autism, behavioural disorders and physical disabilities. Funding is desperately needed to ensure that restoration is completed and the dream to offer care to all disadvantaged and vulnerable children is realised” said Dr Lawrence Mubaiwa, Trustee of the KZN Children’s Hospital Trust and Head of the Division of Paediatric Neurology & Child Development at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital.
While significant progress has been made at the Hospital, a large amount of funding is still required to complete the project in its entirety. The KZN Children’s Hospital Trust is therefore on a mission to raise awareness and thus also raise funds through their #BuyABrickBuildAFuture initiative, whereby the public are able to contribute to the rebuild by buying virtual bricks online – as many as they want – at R100 per brick via the hospital website: www.kznchildrenshospital.org. KZN’s East Coast Radio shares the values and beliefs of the KZN Children’s Hospital Trust and has lent considerable support to the project with a campaign having been run from mid-October, coinciding with Mental Health Awareness month.
For more information on the Hospital re-establishment project, visit www.kznchildrenshospital.org. To follow the conversation on social media, find the KZN Children’s Hospital on Facebook (@KZNChildrensHospital) and LinkedIn (KwaZulu-Natal Children’s Hospital).