Item 358 - Speech by President Nelson Mandela at the official opening of the Umtata Bedford Hospital upgrade

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Speech by President Nelson Mandela at the official opening of the Umtata Bedford Hospital upgrade


  • 1996-04-09 (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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Opening of the Umtata Bedford Hospital Upgrade

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  • English

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Master of ceremonies;
MEC for Health of the Eastern Cape Province;

Executive officers of Engen Petroleum and JCI;

Dr MacConnachie of the African Medical Mission;

Ladies and gentlemen;

Fellow South Africans.

Today the eyes of our nation are focused on a corner of our country which was for too long left out on the margins. What is to be seen here and later today at Sabalele, government and civil society are working together to make reconstruction and development a reality for our people wherever they live.

Nowhere has the legacy of apartheid been more shocking than in the state of health care in the former Transkei region.

In the face of the apartheid regime's neglect, people of goodwill founded and established an orthopaedic hospital that has come in time to service 26 hospitals and a population of around five million people. In this region of grinding poverty, where diseases like bone and joint tuberculosis and polio are still prevalent, such a service is the difference between life and death.

Those who initiated and built this enterprise lacked many of the basic essentials. But they were sustained by compassion to serve people in dire need.

Personally, when I first visited the hospital just over a year ago I was most impressed by what was being done with so few resources. But I was also deeply distressed at how limited those resources where and at the conditions experienced by health staff and patients.

I therefore resolved to bring together those whose needs were so urgent, with those who have the resources to help. And so we see here today the product of a partnership that has come to characterise our young democracy.

It is a partnership made up of business, in the form of Engen Petroleum and Johannesburg Consolidated Investments; our democratically-elected Eastern Cape Provincial Government; and those like the Holy Cross Sisters and the African Medical Mission who have been the driving force that founded the Bedford Hospital and kept it alive against all odds.

The two and a quarter million Rands generously provided by the private sector, and the bulk infrastructure systems funded by government, have allowed the hospital to be upgraded to better serve the people of the region. Indeed, without the new operating theatres and intensive care unit, the hospital might well have ground to a halt.

It is only a start and there are still great needs. But we are confident that with such a partnership even more improvements will be made.

Ladies and gentlemen:

I believe that not only the people of this region but the nation as a whole are grateful to those who joined hands to make the project as success. They have set an example which should inspire other companies, other provinces, and other communities.

Each such initiative contributes to the investment in people which is critical for our nation's well-being and our economic development. Adequate health-care enhances people's capacity to contribute to development.

Through partnership, whether of this kind or others, we will build a better life for all.

It is now my pleasure officially to open the Umtata Bedford Hospital Upgrade.

Thank you.

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Acquisition method: From website ; Source: ANC Website. Accessioned on 21/11/06 by Helen Joannides




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