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Recent reports on the country’s stubbornly-high infant mortality rates paint a grim picture of the medical system. Currently, the mortality rate of infants in South Africa is 30 in 1 000. While the National Development Plan seeks to reduce this to 20 in 1 000, private companies are increasingly stepping in to assist.

This is evident in the Eastern Cape. Since the Carte Blanche Making a Difference Trust, with the assistance of many corporates, donated two state-of-the-art paediatric theatres to Frere Hospital in the Eastern Cape, the level of care and the number of children helped in the region have increased dramatically. Since opening in October 2014, over 300 children have been operated on and the waiting list for routine surgeries has decreased by about five months. The facilities are the first theatres dedicated to paediatrics in the region.

Hollard was one of the organisations that contributed to this initiative, the third time that the insurance provider donated towards the setup of paediatric theatres pioneered by the Carte Blanche Making a Difference Trust. This year, Nic Kohler, group CEO of Hollard took a special interest and contributed personally to Hollard’s donation.

“Hollard is committed to assisting government in achieving the goals set out in the National Development Plan, said Kohler. “We realise the importance for children and society of investing in a child's foundation years – from birth to age nine – and so our CSI focus is on the health, nutrition and education needs of children in this age group.”

“These operating theatres not only allow us to save lives but also to improve the quality of the life of that child because we are intervening sooner,” said Frere Hospital CEO, Dr Rolene Wagner.

Kohler adds, “These children are now being afforded the chance of reaching their full potential in life – something Hollard is very passionate about.”

Hollard recently increased its annual contribution to the Hollard Foundation Trust from a minimum of R10 million to R15 million per year  in order to further the Trust’s Early Childhood Development (ECD) initiatives such as the very successful Kago Ya Bana (“building together for our children”) programme in Midvaal. The programme is a partnership between the Foundation, the Gauteng Departments of Social Development and Education and the Midvaal Municipality.

“We seek to enable local government to serve its communities better and to fulfil its obligations to these children as set out in the terms of the Children’s Act. In doing so, we hope to provide a blueprint for other municipalities to do the same, thereby leading to real, systemic change,” explains Kohler.

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