Our Host and Premier of the Eastern Cape, Mr Phumulo Masualle,
Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi,
Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
MEC for Health, Dr Pumza Dyantyi and other MECs present,
US Charge’ d’Affaires, Ms Jessye Lepenn,
Superintendent-General of Health, Dr Thobile Mbengashe,
Chairperson of the Hospital Board, Nombuyiselo Makala
Hospital CEO, Dr Mthandeki Xamlashe,
Traditional and religious leaders,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Today is a moment of joy and pride not only for the people of Mdantsane, but for the rest of our beloved our country.
The new Cecilia Makiwane hospital is a national asset to be treasured and celebrated. From a terrible chapter of racial oppression and a segregated public health system, we have come a long way to restore our people’s dignity through the provision of quality health care for all.
This state of the art health facility is a victory in our people’s cause to build a united, equal, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous society. The unveiling of the new wing of Cecilia Makiwane Hospital takes place during Heritage Month.
We have dedicated this month to celebrate our liberation heritage. As we travel and pause in the liberation heritage route, we find in it a pioneer among pioneers in nursing, Cecilia Makiwane, after whom this hospital is fittingly named. Not only was this outstanding daughter of Alice to become the first registered nurse in January 1908, but she also threw herself in the forefront of the first women anti –pass campaign in 1912 in the Free State.
Fifteen years ago, our government introduced the Cecilia Makiwane Nurse’s Recognition Award for distinguished health care professionals in her honour. As both a teacher and a nurse, Cecilia Makiwane chose vocations where she would make her greatest contributions to the betterment of her people’s lives.
It is in the classrooms that teachers demonstrate how people can overcome those limitations imposed on them through the accident of history. It is in our clinics and hospitals where health care workers do all they can to heal the sick and comfort the wounded.
It is here where in our hour of need, we hand over our loved ones to doctors and nurses trusting that they will stop at nothing to save our dearest possession – life itself. This new infrastructure is an important investment in the health and wellbeing of our people.
We commend the Province and social partners for ensuring that the limited public money we have is prioritised to realise the Constitutional rights to life, health, and dignity. In spite of the many challenges that still confront our nation, we are sure that if we were to go to the gravesite of Steve Bantu Biko in Ginsberg and tell him of this hospital, he would realise that the wheels have not fallen off.
He would say, despite our setbacks, we remain on the course to “bestow on South Africa the greatest possible gift – a more human face.” We will thank him for working with Dr Ramphele Mamphele for mobilising resources to build the Zanempilo Community Health Centre for the rural community of Zinyoka outside King William’s Town.
We will say to him and Chris Hani that the people who were killed by the illegitimate Ciskei regime twenty five years ago at Bisho did not die in vain. We will say to all our fallen heroes that from the ruins of racial oppression and the suffering of our people, today Cecilia Makiwane Hospital stand tall as a monument to their sacrifices.
We will tell them that, come rain or shine, South Africa will achieve universal quality health care.
Come rain or shine, South Africa will have the inclusive National Health Insurance to ensure quality, safety, and efficient health provision for all our citizens.
Ladies and gentlemen,
This 526- bed hospital is supported by an integrated system that will optimise efficiencies in the delivery of quality health care. The integrated system which exploits technological innovation will cut down patient waiting times, improve diagnosis, and improve health outcomes.
The hospital will provide support to districts and maternity units through telemedicine and outreach programmes by specialist teams.
It is a facility that will allow us to expand government’s e-health strategy by providing advanced clinical support to rural areas. These investments in infrastructure, technology and innovation will contribute significantly to improve health outcomes for the people of Mdantsane and the region.
The investments in infrastructure to the tune of 1 billion will support local economic development in the townships.
They will also support local government efforts to improve community infrastructure. As we revitalise public health infrastructure, we are also expanding opportunities for local communities to improve their lives through job creation and local enterprise development.
We are on an unstoppable journey to implement the National Health Insurance (NHI). We have taken the right way to ensure that no South African is excluded from accessing dignified, quality health care.
This world-class, tertiary hospital is an investment by our people to realise the NDP vision and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of universal health care coverage.
We are implementing the NHI to ensure health equity by reorganising the public and private health system.
Through the NHI, we will pool funds to provide access to quality health services for all South Africans based on their health needs irrespective of their socio-economic status.
This is a financing system that will ensure that the use of health services does not result in financial hardships for individuals and families.
Already, South Africa spends far above the recommended 5% by the World Health Organisation (WHO) of its GDP in health. Our public health system caters for more than 80% of the population.
On the other hand, our private sector spends around 4.4% of GDP on health but only caters for a small population around 16% of the entire population.
These inequities are not only unjust, but are unsustainable. They reflect old patterns of privilege. And they certainly do not advance the Constitutional ideals of transformation, inclusion, and equality.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We will not fail in our efforts because Mdantsane where the hospital is located inspires hope and triumph. No other place in the history of our country boasts more world boxing champions than Mdantsane. For many of the boxing legends, boxing was their only way out of poverty. They fought way above their weight and achieved victory on behalf of our people.
In the midst of poverty and oppression, Mdantsane produced boxing legends like Nkosana “Happy Boy” Mgxaji, Vuyani “the Beast” Bhungu, and Welcome “the Hawk” Ncita.
They defied the odds. They brought glory and national pride. And Mdantsane continues to be South Africa’s boxing capital producing household names like Zolani Tete and Nomeva Ndongeni.
Witnessing the opening of the new Cecilia Makiwane Hospital today, are some of these polished gems and champions from the rough streets of Mdantsane.
During this Heritage month, we claim them as a vital part of our living heritage.
In celebrating the Cecilia Makiwane Hospital, we also wish to honour them and thank them for having made us believe in ourselves. They made us to dream beyond the horizon. And this living monument – this hospital – is a big part of their story.
We have no doubt that the nurses at this hospital will fight like the tough, inventive Mdantsane boxers to heal our nation, restore our citizen’s dignity, and save lives.
As government, we will continue to learn from them and the heroes of our struggle on how best to champion the just cause of our people.
Learning from them, we will be victorious against the hurdles that stand between quality health care and the poorest of the poor.
I thank you.