PICS: Inside the new Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital

Bright & fun, the new Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital is everything it should be. Designed by children, for children, it sports bright walls and inviting kid-friendly spaces.

An examination room at the newly-opened Nelson Mandela Children's Hospital. Picture: NMCH

JOHANNESBURG - Hospitals can be notoriously scary, dreary places for children facing serious health issues with their bleak corridors and washed-out wards.

The Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital (NMCH), offiically opened in Johannesburg on Friday morning, aims to change all that.

Designed by children, for children, it sports bright walls and inviting kid-friendly spaces inside and out.

From an examination room that looks like a starry night-time safari to a CT scanner decorated to look anything but frightening, the NMCH is the culmination of years of dreaming, careful planning and construction – and it shows.

Physiotherapy and rehabilitation spaces look more like playrooms and jungle-gyms; the gardens outside double as a play park for young patients.

Even ‘no entry’ signs in the hospital’s radiation department are given a makeover to ensure they’re less intimidating, while x-ray aprons are an eye-popping explosion of colour.

At least $800 million was raised to fund the project, on which construction started in 2014.

The facility now boasts 200 beds and 10 theatres, with a promise that no child will be turned away because they can't afford to pay.

Nelson Mandela's widow Graca Machel says the hospital should not be seen only as a building, but a place that embodies the values of social justice and equity.

Machel says the healthcare centre is an expression of sharing.

“There is a commitment to be focused and making sure you don’t only have a building, but the values behind service and providing social justice.”

Machel says specialist doctors within the Southern African Development Community region will be trained at the hospital.

“The first step will be to bring in paediatricians and specialised nurses to be aligned on how to treat a child.”