CB20: Still Making a Difference

05 September 2010
It’s been two years since the launch of our Making a Difference campaign to celebrate our 20th birthday. Since then viewers and corporate sponsors have raised more than R70-million to upgrade and rebuild paediatric facilities at several State hospitals. But the difference it’s made to little lives and the doctors and nursing staff involved cannot be measured.
GM Charlotte Maxeke

[Carte Blanche 3 August 2008] George Mazarakis (Carte Blanche: Executive Producer): 'I think it's time, after 20 years, to give back and say, 'Now's the time to make a difference,' and ask, 'How can we help?''

Derek Watts (Carte Blanche presenter): 'When the boss, George Mazarakis, talked about starting the Making A Difference Campaign with the aim of raising R20-million...'

Bongani Bingwa (Carte Blanche presenter): '...a million for each year we'd been on air...'

Derek: '...we thought the initials were right - M. A. D. - he was mad.'

[Carte Blanche 3 August 2008] George: 'All we're doing is simply acting as facilitators to help those hospitals deliver.'

Derek: 'But what we didn't account for was the generosity of the corporate sector in this country - they've really come to the party in a huge way.'

[Carte Blanche 3 August 2008] Derek: In the next seven weeks Carte Blanche will profile the paediatric surgical units of five State hospitals where the right medical equipment can save a life. We'll focus on two child welfare organisations who are trying to deal with the onslaught of abandoned and orphaned children. We will see the conditions they work under, what they most need; we will ask our viewers and companies to help.

Bongani: 'Well, here we are, two years later and the Making A Difference Campaign is sitting at...'


George: 'It is unbelievable. When we initially set the R20-million goal, a lot of us thought we'd lost our minds - including me. I really didn't think it would happen. And now we find ourselves at a number of 72.5 million.'

[Carte Blanche 10 August 2008] Derek: This is not a scene from ER...

[Carte Blanche 10 August 2008] Devi: 'It's a tough call every day - I can see it every minute.'

[Carte Blanche 10 August 2008] Dr Joao da Fonseca (Paediatric surgeon): 'For thirty years that I've been in this hospital, this ICU is still the same.'

Soweto's Chris Hani Baragwanath treats over a hundred thousand children a year.

[Carte Blanche 10 August 2008] Dr Monzon: 'As you can see, we have very little space...'

When we first walked into its wards, the hospital was labouring under an overwhelming demand for care. Not enough space, not enough ICU beds and a neonatal theatre that was falling apart.

[Carte Blanche 10 August 2008] Devi: This neonatal theatre was built in the seventies. It's in serious need of an upgrade.

[Carte Blanche 10 August 2008] Dr Da Fonseca: 'All this is very old equipment. It is not really ideal. Some of this may just slide right off, because they are so old and worn off.'

The need at Chris Hani Baragwanath was enormous.

Bongani: 'The greatest challenge facing the campaign was how to allocate funds. Doctors here at Bara had expressed a wish for a recovery room, crucial to monitor babies directly after operations. So... to plough money into the already over-stretched ICU, or to build an entirely new neonatal complex?'

The decision: A complete make-over to turn a dilapidated theatre, and under-resourced space around it, into a world class neonatal centre.

[February 2010] Dr Jerome Loveland (Paediatric surgeon): 'We didn't have massive logistical administrative problems. I think everyone saw where we were going and really worked very, very well together. I think it has given us hope that we can really continue this type of endeavour in the future.'

The driving force behind the R4.2-million renovation was MTN.

[2009] Eunice Maluleke (MTN Foundation): 'For the MTN, the Foundation, the good thing is that we are making a difference in the lives of the little ones.'

[February 2010] Eunice: 'So handing over a unit like this is actually saying that we want to make sure that we reduce the mortality of the little ones.'

The newly renovated space boasts a state of the art operating theatre.

Dr Loveland: 'You know, we've got brand new 'knives and forks' - brand new operating instruments to actually perform the operation.'

George: 'A lot of the equipment that we've been introducing into these hospitals is way ahead of what they were expecting to be using at this time. I mean, in some cases we were told that they were leapfrogging 10 years ahead in terms of what government would have given them.'

[February 2010] Qedani Mahlangu (MEC Health & Social Development, Gauteng): 'It simply says the private sector care about the work we do in the public health institutions. But not only that, the private sector also wants to see a quality of healthcare improving even for ordinary citizens who do not have the choices that me and you have.'

[February 2010] Dr Da Fonseca: 'When there is an organisation that takes to heart to help us because they understand our needs - tremendous boost for the morale of the doctors... no doubt!'

For the first time, doctors at Chris Hani Baragwanath can cocoon babies just out of surgery in a dedicated recovery room and mini-ICU.

[February 2010] Bongani: 'What difference does it make to your job as a doctor in this environment?'

[February 2010] Dr Da Fonseca: 'Oh, a tremendous amount of difference. This is such sophisticated... you see now these newborn babies that we have here. Now we have monitors... if the baby stops breathing for some reason, immediately an alarm sounds. So, all these little 'gadgets' let's call it, make a tremendous difference for our work.'

Helping to make that difference are GlaxoSmithKline with an R800 000 donation.

[February 2010] Kathleen Smith (GlaxoSmithKline): 'It is a small contribution, but it is making a huge difference and a huge impact. And we're just so proud and we're so privileged to be a part of that.'

[February 2010] Sue Fox (Estee Lauder): 'We wanted to donate a sum of money to ensure the health of little children.'

Estee Lauder added half-a-million-rand to the mix - their biggest ever single donation in Africa.

Someone who is taking his corporate donation personally is Ravi Pillay, Nestlé’s Corporate Affairs Director.

He is visiting the Sebokeng home of one of the first children to benefit from their R3.2-million donation - two-year-old Bhule.

Ravi Pillay (Nestlé): 'Gratifying and an extremely warm feeling to be part of a company that actually has made this commitment to give children a fair chance in life.'

Bhule was just a day old when her mother, Sophie, realised there was something seriously wrong. The newborn was gasping for air and couldn't eat.

Sophie Mthethwa: 'But we found out she has a problem because the doctors at the Bara, they said her oesophagus is joined to the lungs.'

Up until the '60s, it was a fatal condition. But surgeons managed to save Bhule's life with corrective surgery. Still, she couldn't swallow.

Sophie: 'She doesn't want to do anything with food. She would close her eyes and you could see that, no, I can't do it anymore, and then you stopped it.'

To keep her daughter alive, Sophie has to feed her through a tube.

Sophie: 'At home I'm trying to give her the solid foods, everything, I'm crushing it so that it goes through the syringe.'

To open her oesophagus, Bhule is undergoing a series of operations at the new digital theatre donated by Nestlé.

Dr Loveland: 'One of the risks of this procedure is that you can actually perforate the oesophagus...'

Performing the high-risk surgery is Dr Jerome Loveland.

Dr Loveland: '...and it needs to be done completely safely. And once again, in fact, these dilators are a completely new set of dilators that we were donated through the campaign and, this specific case, Nestlé.'

Ravi: 'We've sponsored a digital hanging theatre which offers the opportunity for paediatric surgeons to perform very delicate key-hole type surgery on babies.'

Dr Loveland: 'I think every case that we do these days... every single case has been impacted on by the sort of revival of the theatre complex.'

Dr Loveland: '(To Sophie) That went absolutely fine and you should be able to start feeding her again tomorrow.'

The digital operating theatre has revolutionised paediatric surgery at Chris Hani Baragwanath.

Dr Loveland: 'The children that are treated in this theatre, without over-stating it, probably have better access to First World technology than other children in the city.'

Woman 1 (Nurse): 'We feel like, when you are working here and you go to another clinic, like I'm in a different world.'

Woman 2 (Nurse): 'Working here is like working somewhere else. It is world class equipment that we have and thank you very much guys.'

George: 'The bulk of the equipment that we've given is for paediatric surgery.'

Suspended from the ceiling is the latest in high definition technology.

George: 'At Charlotte Maxeke Hospital - formerly known as Johannesburg General - so that was a significant contribution. But a lot of the other equipment has been related to, for example, high care and intensive care at hospitals.'

Like the six neonatal ICU beds which were donated to the Universitas hospital in Bloemfontein at a cost of over R6-million.

[Carte Blanche 30 August 2009] Derek: Paediatric registrar Dr Riana Woite says that made a huge difference.

[Carte Blanche 30 August 2009] Dr Riana Woite (Paediatric Registrar): 'Luckily we now have the correct equipment that we can act; once they are in theatre we can incubate. We can bring them here and, thanks to oscillators especially which protect these very small lungs, the outcome is much better. So in his case it had a very good outcome.'

George: 'Some of the projects have been absolutely remarkable and they stand out... for example, the Kimberley hospital complex where we gave a paediatric ICU. There has never been a fully-fledged paediatric ICU in Kimberley.'

[Carte Blanche 31 January 2010] Bongani: New equipment was everywhere and four brand new monitors would mean that Dr Jooste no longer needed to make difficult choices about which patient was more deserving.

George: 'Every cent of the donated money that has come in has been spent on what it was intended for. None of it has gone to administration. And that, I think, is a unique aspect of this project.'

The campaign's patron, Karolina Andropoulos, gives her time and energy free of charge to bring sponsors on board and make sure their money is well spent.

Of the R72-million donated, the bulk has been spent. More than R15-million in sponsored equipment has gone to the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital. Chris Hani Baragwanath has received just under R12-million in equipment. The Steve Biko Academic Hospital... almost two million. Over R5-million was spent on a new ICU at Kimberley hospital. In excess of R6-million was spent at Universitas hospital in Bloemfontein. King Edward VIII Hospital in Durban has received R1.8-million worth of equipment that is already in use. A further R20-million has been donated to build a brand new paediatric unit. Child welfare organisations have received more than R3-million in donations.

George: 'A lot of the corporates that gave us donations have been so impressed by the way that the donations have been spent and properly accounted for that they've been to the handovers and seen the equipment in situ changing lives... saving lives, in most cases. So they've come back and given more.'

Those sponsors include Xtrata, Discovery Health, Hollard and Sasol. Donating over R4-million for a second time is the Industrial Development Corporation.

[February 2010] Bongani: 'Since you came on board, what have your feelings been as you've seen equipment being delivered to hospital after hospital and different wards being opened up?'

[February 2010] Geoffrey Qhena (Industrial Development Corporation): 'Well, there's been a great sense of saying ‘we have indeed made a difference’ where we've seen how people's lives been made much easier.'

The IDC has spent over R8-million on life-saving trauma equipment in the form of two specialised x-ray machines.

[February 2010] Dr Elias Degiannis (Trauma Director): 'We put the patient on - as he comes in on his trolley - we put him on the Lodox trolley.'

Sounds simple, but this South African invention makes the difference between life and death.

[February 2010] Dr Degiannis: 'It means that our patients are investigated straight away as soon as they hit resus (resuscitation)'. It takes about one minute to have the whole body x-rayed. And then we can proceed with the resuscitation very, very fast. So, from the practical points, it cuts down on the resuscitation time [and] you can say that it saves lives.'

[February 2010] Geoffrey: 'Because I think as the MEC had said, people don't have a choice - some people - and what we're doing with this is we're giving them an opportunity to get access to state of the art technology as far as health is concerned.'

Dr Loveland: 'I can honestly say that we've got everything that we need and that we're not going to need to procure new equipment for probably many years to come.'

George: 'We believe there is a great deal more to do and we have some very big capital projects to still execute - the most notable being the hospital in Durban at King Edward VIII. Carte Blanche is committed to this project and we've committed to it for at least five years from the day of inception. I don't see how we can possibly step away from it because we've made a contribution that needs to be nursed.'

[On screen] Chris Hani Baragwaneth Sponsors: Nestlé, IDC, MTN, GlaxoSmithKline, Estee Lauder, Standard Bank, Air Products, Old Mutual, Xstrata, LG, Polyflor, Bombela Concession, Grobir, Marcus Medical

Producer : Odette Schwegler
Presenter : Bongani Bingwa