Item 234 - Speech by President Nelson Mandela at the Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights

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Speech by President Nelson Mandela at the Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights


  • 1995-03-06 (Creation)

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Transcription of speech made by Mr Mandela

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(18 July 1918-5 December 2013)

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Migrated from the Nelson Mandela Speeches Database (Sep-2018).

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ANC Website

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Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights

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  • English

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President and Members of the Board of Trustees of the Henry J Kaiser Family Foundation;
Honourable Ministers;
Distinguished guests;
Ladies and Gentlemen.

I am extremely glad that we can all be together, here in South Africa, for this year's Health and Human Rights Award.

I feel most honoured to welcome you, the Board of Trustees of the Kaiser Family Foundation, on your first visit to a democratic South Africa.

For us, as I know it is for you, it is a great joy to be able to state that the South African Government has made universal access to primary health care a priority. We all share in the pride of knowing that amongst the very first actions of the democratic government was the initiation of two successful programmes in the field of health. Over 4 million school children are being fed each day and there is free health-care for pregnant mothers and young children.

Access to clean water, adequate food, housing, employment and sanitation play a decisive role in determining the health status of a population and this government is committed to providing these over time. While effective changes in health service provision will improve access to health care, long-term improvements in the health of our people hinge on tangible improvements in living conditions.

The Government of National Unity is in the process ensure that spending is shifted towards addressing the most pressing needs, as spelt out in the Reconstruction and Development Programme.

The Ministry of Health has presented a five year health-spending plan that will targets the health of pregnant women, mothers and children; building and staffing clinics in under-served areas; and retaining more nurses in clinical and primary care skills.

These strategies are designed to promote health, prevent diseases and treat in the community those diseases that commonly result in hospitalisation.

This enormous challenge can be met only by a partnership of all social structures in the very broad field of health.

On the part of government it mans pursuing the commitment to shift priorities towards basic needs. And it means continuing the process of consultation with all role players which has marked the development of health policy thus far.

On the part of communities it means being ready to take responsibility for their own primary health care, something which will be greatly enhanced by our first democratic local government elections later this year.

On the part of health-workers and organizations it means bringing their particular skills, experience and resources to bear in finding solutions to problems created by our history of division and inequality. It means being ready to find ways of reconciling particular interests with the broader national interest of ensuring affordable primary health care for all.

The Henry J Kaiser Family Foundation can be proud of its record as a partner in this process. Its program in this country, initiated in 1988, has helped South Africans in the task of establishing a more equitable national health system. Its work has been mainly directed at improving health care for the most disadvantaged sectors of the population, with a particular focus on communities in rural areas and peri-urban informal settlements.

Through the National Progressive Primary Health Care Network, the Health System Trust and other initiatives, the Foundation has contributed substantially to preparing the ground for implementation of the new government's health plans.

This record exemplifies the contribution which private donors can make to the task of addressing the legacy of apartheid. It is believed by some that aid from private American foundations will now fall markedly, because of a belief that their role must be taken over by government and bilateral donors.

This would be a mistake. Government cannot do everything alone. Private donors and non-governmental organizations have a vital contribution to make within the framework of the national Reconstruction and Development Programme. They can often play a distinctive role in kick-starting important processes; assisting innovation by demonstrating alternative approaches; and capacity-building in order ultimately to make government more effective. This is amply demonstrated by the contribution which the Foundation has made to the cause of health in both the United States and South Africa.

Ladies and gentlemen.

I am proud to be associated with an award which honours the accomplishment of individuals whose life's work gives expression to the goal of good quality health care, a basic right of every citizen.

The Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights is given annually to an American and a South African. In so doing, it underlines the linkages and historic parallels between our countries. We have much to learn from one another, and the award gives meaning to a process of shared experience and mutual learning.

It is my great pleasure to announce that the winners of the 1995 Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights are Ms. Charlotte Webb Collins and Ms. Mankuba Ramalepe. I would like to congratulate them sincerely on their achievement.

They exemplify the values celebrated by this award. Not only have they devoted many years to service of the poor and disadvantaged, and done so in a way that gives full recognition to how firmly health is rooted in socio-economic conditions. Still more, they have helped to empower individuals and communities to access health resources and to become active partners in health care.

Theirs is an example in the spirit of renewal and reconstruction which puts the involvement of communities in their own upliftment at the heart of change.

May this award inspire others to follow their path!

And may the Kaiser Family Foundation long be a partner in the reconstruction and development of our country!


Paragraph beginning: "I am extremel glad that we can all be together, here in South Africa, for this year's Health and Human Rights Award."
Changes made: "extremel" changed to "extremely"

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Acquisition method: From website ; Source: ANC Website. Accessioned on 15/11/06 by Helen Joannides




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