[Carte Blanche archive: Visual Montage] "It's a tough call every minute... I can see it.
It's a minute by minute call.
We are the life savers....
This hospital is not really for the fainthearted, hey."

These are some of the heroes of South Africa today - who every day face another challenge - the fight to save lives... the doctors and nurses at our State Hospitals who are committed to doing their job to their best despite the low pay and the lack of proper equipment.

[Carte Blanche 24 August 2008] Sister Ntuli: “You know once you've touched them, you really become attached to them. You feel they are your own babies.”

For doctors like this to continue their miracle work they need huge support. To this end, seven weeks ago, Carte Blanche launched our “making a difference” campaign. Our 20th Birthday present is about giving back.

[Carte Blanche 3 August 2008] Derek Watts (Carte Blanche presenter): In the next seven weeks Carte Blanche will profile the paediatric units of five state hospitals where the right medical equipment can save a life.

[Carte Blanche 3 August 2008] George Mazarakis (Executive Producer - Carte Blanche): “My dream is to raise a million; a million for every year we've been on air. That would be a meaningful contribution.”

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Bongani Bingwa (Carte Blanche presenter): “When we launched our 'making a difference' campaign it seemed to us we might have set the bar quiet high but it took just six weeks for us to reach our target.”

Devi Sankaree Govender (Carte Blanche presenter): Today the fund has reached R24-million and is still growing. Every cent will be used to help the helpless, children like...

[Carte Blanche 24 August 2008] Devi: Andile is only two days old and weighs a mere 750g. His life hangs in the balance. He was born 14 weeks early, and he is struggling to breathe by himself.

Pinky Mohadi (Director of Strategy and Corporate Affairs - Nedbank): “I like the programme and congratulations to Carte Blanche for turning 20, and we are glad you brought us in to celebrate with you.”

Devi: Pinky Moholi is Director of Strategy and Corporate Affairs for Nedbank. They gave R1-million.

Derek Watts (Carte Blanche presenter): “These days ploughing back is a very big part of corporate life?”

Pinky: “It's core to our being.”

[Carte Blanche 10 August 2008] Derek: “So are we saying young lives are being lost that could have been saved?

[Carte Blanche 10 August 2008] Dr Baneigh Bal (Paediatric surgeon): “The short answer is yes.”

Pinky: “So we thought that we could make a difference by donating five dialysis machines. It might appear like a drop in the ocean, but we believe it will make a difference in many people's lives.”

And Pinky decided to make a personal difference of her own.

Pinky: “I was attracted to the Pretoria Academic Hospital's need for an ECG machine for children. I thought that I would donate R50 000 towards buying that machine, primarily because the focus is children. These are teaching hospitals for future doctors. If they don't have basic equipment what kind of doctors will we produce?”

Eric Ratshikhopha (Executive Director - Xstrata): “It's a business imperative for us to be involved in the communities in which we operate.”

Executive Director of Xstrata Eric Ratshikhopha was happy to donate R1-million in the knowledge that all of it will go directly to where it's needed.

Eric: “Just the fact a programme that is known very much is concerned about what is going on out there - and if they invited us and gave us a platform - we couldn't have missed that.”

[Carte Blanche 10 August 2008] Dr Ellen Mapunda (Paediatric surgeon): “So because we don't have that instrument for this size of baby, we ended making this big cut on the stomach of the baby.”

[Carte Blanche 10 August 2008] Devi: “So the baby has to grow to fit the scope you have?”

[Carte Blanche 10 August 2008] Dr Mapunda: “Yes.”

[Carte Blanche 10 August 2008] Dr Joao da Fonseca (Paediatric surgeon): “We are the kings of improvisation.”

Eric: “Baragwanath is one of the biggest hospitals but more than that really, is the extent of the needs. It doesn't just serve Johannesburg, it serves the whole country - actually the whole of Africa.”

Bongani: “What's your challenge to the rest of corporate South Africa?”

Eric: “Corporate South Africa should take corporate citizenship very seriously and come to the party and join this very useful programme which is run by a credible organisation and really, the more the merrier.”

Bongani: “The culture of corporate giving is well established in many first world countries. In places like USA and Australia many state run hospitals depend on extra funding from the private sector to provide quality health care services. Following on that successful model, corporate SA has really come to the party in making a difference to the lives of the most vulnerable South Africans.”

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Tim Lowry (Managing Director - MTN): “I think companies that are not giving back to society are companies that are living for the now and are not investing in future. MTN is a company that is investing in the future.”

For Tim Lowry Managing Director of MTN the best way to invest in our future is by making a R2.1-million donation to upgrading the children's ICU unit at Chris Hani Baragwanath.

Tim: “It was clear there was a need for a big contribution here; R2.1-million. An intensive care unit is critical. This is really the sharp end of medicine. This is the difference between life and death.”

[Carte Blanche 10 August 2008] Devi: “I'm at the neo-natal ICU. It is impossible in one shot to show you exactly how busy it is. Most of these babies are in what's called transitional high care, but for the seriously ill there are only 12 ventilated ICU beds. It's just not enough for a hospital that delivers 24 000 babies a year.”

Bongani: “Children's lives are going to be saved through what you've done.”

Tim: “Exactly and that will uplift both the standing of the hospital in the community and that will uplift the community because the children will go on to contribute back to society.”

Devi: “And to ensure complete transparency two top firms have come on board to manage the trust and the donations.”

Legal firm Webber Wentzel are offering their services pro bono, Partner Peter Grealy has helped to create a trust.

Derek: “Peter, these days companies and corporate are really concerned about the money getting to the right people?”

Peter Grealy (Partner: Webber Wentzel): “They probably have every reason to be concerned. In this instance, what we have done is we've created trust. It's been properly registered, it will be properly administered. And it will be administered according to the parameters that have been set for the trustees of the fund.”

Derek: “Well Peter, you don't want Carte Blanche knocking on your door here, do you?”

Peter: “Well, that's right. Absolutely!”

Devi: And also pro bono, well-known accounting firm, Deloitte, had no hesitation in coming on board.

Anne Casey (Director of Tax - Deloitte): “We saw it as an excellent opportunity to contribute towards a social responsibility investment, which we align ourselves to. And it's a great initiative.”

Anne Casey is Director of Tax at Deloitte.

Anne: “Deloitte will be allowing transparency on the flow of funds, the use of funds and to ensure that the funds end up where they should.”

One hundred percent of the donations will go directly to the donee, and importantly the campaign is structured so that no cash is given, only equipment and supplies.

Happy Ntshingila (Director of Marketing and Communications - ABSA): “I think that's good thing because you know exactly that a particular hospital says that they want this equipment and what we do is we facilitate them obtaining that equipment. It's clean and it's straightforward.”

Devi: Happy Ntshingila is Director of Marketing and Communications for ABSA who happily gave R1-million.

Happy: “I'm actually a keen Carte Blanche viewer, so I was impressed to see people doing something for their own country, not just journalists doing journalistic work. And I have been moved by what I have seen.”

Happy: “You see children dying after birth, and it's purely because there is no equipment or the technology is poor. And lives that could have been saved - I mean, that kind of stuff will always touch you.”

Devi: “ABSA has donated R1-million. Where do you want the money to go?”

Happy: “Let them be the ones to tell us what needs to be done, and we will provide the funds for obtaining the equipment, or building a building - whatever it is they need. So let them tell us, and we will just provide the funds.”

[Carte Blanche 10 August 2008] Derek: “Old equipment needs to be maintained or replaced. There is a massive demand for ICU beds, training equipment and a whole list of specialised surgical gear.”

Geoffrey Qhena (CEO - Industrial Development Corporation): “What really inspired us was what they were trying to do. We wanted to say as a citizen of South Africa - as a responsible corporate we need to also participate in this noble idea.”

Devi: Geoffrey Qhena, is CEO of the Industrial Development Corporation. Their generous donation has more than matched our noble idea.

Bongani: “To date the IDC has made the largest contribution to our campaign. They've spent R5.8-million on two X-ray machines. But they are throwing down the gauntlet and are issuing a challenge to the government: they will buy three more machines if the state is willing to meet them half way.”

Geoffrey: “Each machine costs R2.9-million. So, for the first two machines we will be carrying that cost and we are saying for the next three we will carry 50 percent of each cost “˜cause we know the public hospitals are the ones that need it. It is where the ordinary people, who cannot afford to go to private hospitals, can be able to access those.”

Bongani: “What do you hope to achieve with your contribution?”

Geoffrey: “Our contribution hopefully can make it easier for decisions to be made in hospitals.”

[Carte Blanche 24 August 2008] Devi: “Will you be able to save more lives if you had what you need, just the basics?”

[Carte Blanche 24 August 2008] Professor Miriam Adhikari (Academic Head of Paediatrics, UKZN): “I'm sure we would. At least give mothers better opinions. Because it's not just about saving the baby - what do you say to mothers, what do you say to families? How do you relate to them when you don't have the information? If I could say to the mom whose baby weighs 750g, “˜Your baby is fine - there is no haemorrhage in the brain.' You know, I would be so relieved.”

Geoffrey: “What we are doing here is we are giving to the two public hospitals, the X-ray machines. So, if they can get the information as soon as possible, to see where the problem for a trauma patient or the child is. So we are hoping that the decision can be made much quicker.”

[Carte Blanche 10 August 2008] Devi: Today there are no complications for this baby or any of the other paediatric surgery patients. Dr Joao de Fonseca ends the day with a final check-up on his babies.

[Carte Blanche 10 August 200] Devi: “What does it feel like - that this doctor saved your baby's life?”

[Carte Blanche 10 August 200] [Mother hugs Dr De Fonseca.]

Producer : Diana Lucas
Presenter : Bongani Bingwa