Keeping South African Kids Safe from Injury
15 May 2014
Approximately 80% of injuries to children occur in or around the home. The Woolworths Childsafe Research and Educational Centre, which officially opens its doors on Thursday, 15 May 2014, will address this devastating statistic. This new centre, fundraised for by the Children’s Hospital Trust, will accommodate the staff and activities of Childsafe South Africa – a non-profit organisation that advocates for child safety nationally. Childsafe has grown so rapidly that they require increased infrastructure to accommodate their training and educational programmes. Their previous modest office space at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in Cape Town has greatly limited their activities. Since 1978, Childsafe has been conducting research, implementing educational programmes and campaigning for child safety. Their advocacy work has had significant and positive influence on legislation for children’s safety and The Woolworths Trust has contributed R1.45million to this initiative to date.
A House is finally a Home
The Children’s Hospital Trust raised the funds needed to build a free-standing centre for staff to continue their educational and skills training programmes for child safety, and included in this building is a ‘Demonstration Room’ for the general public to learn how to safeguard their homes to prevent avoidable injuries to children. This new Centre is on the premises of the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital thus easily accessible by patients’ caregivers, especially those who have had their children treated at the Trauma Unit due to household accidents, with the intent to teach them how to avoid such accidents in future.
“This Woolworths Childsafe Research and Educational Centre will be the first of its kind in Africa and play the central role in making South Africa safer for children. As part of the educational purpose, the centre will incorporate the interior of a house demonstrating child safe designs and furnishing,” says Professor Sebastian van As, Head of the Trauma Unit at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital and President of Childsafe South Africa.
According to van As, the global burden of childhood injuries is unequally distributed, with Sub-Saharan Africa being the worst affected. The large and growing toll of child injury death, the progressive nature of childhood injuries and the frequently long-lasting effects of injury on children gave rise to the creation of Childsafe South Africa.
The Childsafe Centre will facilitate safety educational tours for teachers and learners once a month with the aim to spread awareness of keeping safe, to introduce educational posters as teaching tools at schools and to provide leaners with safety activity booklets.
Another ‘Centre of Excellence’ made possible by the Children’s Hospital Trust
Since extending its funding reach to paediatric healthcare in the Western Cape, beyond the Red Cross Children’s Hospital, the Children’s Hospital Trust has provided an opportunity for public donations to the Trust to help improve children’s medical treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care, and now also for prevention of child accidents. The three main leading causes of child and adolescent deaths in South Africa are motor vehicle accidents, burns and drowning, all of which are preventable through education and awareness, according to Childsafe South Africa.
Louise Driver, CEO of the Children’s Hospital Trust, says, “Children are the most vulnerable when it comes to easily preventable accidents due to their curious nature. The Trust has funded this project in order to focus on prevention as well as treatment in our quest to improve child healthcare and keep our children free of illness and injury. We anticipate a decrease in the amount of trauma admissions at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital with regard to child accidents because of the informative programmes offered by this valuable centre. Once again, the Trust has been greatly supported by donors who have the same belief that children should be enjoying their childhood rather than confined to a hospital bed through injury or illness.”
Public support for this new Centre – the only organisation of its kind in Southern Africa, will put the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital on the forefront of promoting preventative healthcare for children.
The key funder of this initiative is The Woolworths Trust, who donated R1,450,000 of the R6.4million centre that will ensure Childsafe’s comprehensive child accident prevention programmes over the last 35 years continues to benefit the children of South Africa.
“We are honoured to be part of this great initiative. Addressing child vulnerability is one of our priority focus areas for The Woolworths Trust. The centre will be the hub of much needed programmes and information to ensure a safer future for our children and generations to come,” says Sam Ngumeni, Woolworths Chief Operating Officer and Chairman of the Woolworths Trust.
Childsafe South Africa said NO to guns and YES to seat belts
Report findings emanating from Childsafe South Africa have enabled this non-profit organisation to monitor the incidences of preventable child accidents, with the aim of reducing and preventing injuries to children. Professor van As and his team at Childsafe have played an integral role in changes to legislation regarding firearm ownership and seat belt use in motor vehicles.
Western Cape Minister of Health, Theuns Botha, has been advocating partnerships in the health sector since he came into office in 2009. Commending the role players for their joint initiative, he said: “Childsafe South Africa is another wonderful example of a significant collaboration designed to jointly deliver services as a necessary response to the needs of communities. It is clear from the exposure that the safety of children has received these past years, that there is a growing awareness of the vulnerability of our children, and that we have a responsibility to protect them. Childsafe SA is an example that we are better together.”