As a member of a team assembled by the Center for International Health, I visited Johannesburg, South Africa this year to consult with the Nelson Mandela Children’s Trust on a project to build the city’s first children’s hospital.
Johannesburg is the largest city in South Africa, with a population of more than 9 million people. I was overwhelmed with the state of the city – poverty, shantytowns and the devastating effects of AIDS.
Currently, one-third of all pregnant women in Johannesburg test positive for AIDS. This translates to more children born with the disease. When our group traveled to the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa, a two-hour flight from Johannesburg, we learned of the impact AIDS has on young people. We met a young man who, at the age of 11, had lost both his parents to AIDS. Now 18, he grew up in the streets and is working hard to make a life for himself.
The country’s health care system is decades behind the United States. As one woman I met said, “South Africa is on the cusp of the First World and the Third World at the same time.” On the African continent there only are four children’s hospitals. This planned hospital in Johannesburg will make a difference for many kids.
Our team provided guidance on nursing infrastructure and competencies, and architectural design of the hospital. The team from South Africa is scheduled to visit Children’s Hospital of Wisocnsin to learn more about our methods of treatment and how they could use them in their hospital. I was honored to meet some of the best physicians, nurses and genuine people of South Africa who want to do what is right.
South Africa is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Gorgeous landscapes and breathtaking encounters with wildlife. Before embarking on this journey, I had no idea what to expect apart from what I had seen in movies or on TV. But today, I know there are so many wonderful possibilities ahead for South African people.
- Nancy Korom, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, vice president and chief nursing officer, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin
Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin is designated a Magnet hospital by the American Nurses Credentialing Center.