WCGH set to improve the lives of another 250 patients : Mandela Day Project | Western Cape Government


WCGH set to improve the lives of another 250 patients : Mandela Day Project

27 June 2019

Ten lives are changed for every one year of our democracy - Department set to improve the lives of another 250 patients through its Mandela Day Surgery Project

Innovation is required to do more with less. The Health Department is following through on its commitment since 2017 through “Mandela Day Surgeries”. Since its inception in 2017 the Western Cape Department of Health’s Mandela Day Surgeries project has brought life-changing experiences to 262 vulnerable people (additional to “normal” lists) who may otherwise have had to wait much longer for their operations.

Amidst renewed reports of the crowding out impact of violence and trauma cases on the health system, this project remains a shining light for many patients waiting for surgery. The reality in many facilities across the province is that emergency cases (where surgery is life-saving) must be done before any planned (elective) surgery. Many patients are asked to wait even longer for much needed surgery as a result of the trauma load.

Selected in 2018 as a Gold Award winner in the Premier’s Service Excellence Awards, this project creates opportunity for the health system in the Western Cape to perform much-needed surgeries over and above its normal load in the lead up to Mandela Day. It demonstrates the commitment of the Department to find ways to restore dignity and quality of life in an innovative and caring manner.

“This project is a good example of how innovative thinking and private partners can work together towards better health outcomes for the people of the Western Cape”, says MEC Nomafrench Mbombo.

Now in its third year the project seeks to improve the lives of another 250 patients requiring cataract removals, orthopaedic surgery and hip and knee replacements. The aim is to do 10 free procedures for every one year of our democracy. 

In extracting the essence of both the Batho Pele principles and the Western Cape Government core values, the Department has developed a powerful internal rallying call or Pledge: (extract) “Our binding philosophy is that we aim to do the greatest good for the greatest number, creating the greatest value for all, leveraging our available resources. In our decisions we will always consider the vulnerable and favour their plight…”

“The Department actively seeks ways to demonstrate its commitment to its Pledge, by serving people better and prioritising the vulnerable – in this case people living with chronic pain or limited sight, sometimes for years. We wish to restore dignity and quality of life”, says Dr Beth Engelbrecht, Head of Department.

For hip, knee and cataract knee surgeries, patients can wait between three and five years for their operations. They are graded in terms of their severity, extent of the pain and whether they actively contribute to the economy. This project allows for additional patients to be operated on and while this may not have reduced the waiting list by years, it certainly helped the few patients who may have been waiting for years.

Cataracts develop with age and can be associated with certain medical conditions. The result of the cataract is decreasing vision until the patient is completely blind. Through a simple operation of removing the cataract and replacing the lens, patients are able to have completely normal vision. After the surgery people become self-sufficient again, able to care for themselves, loved ones and earn a living. Joint replacements give people renewed mobility, independence, and pain-free living. Each procedure impacts the patient directly but also has a massive indirect impact on the friends, family and colleagues of that individual. It is important to stress that these procedures are relatively simple but all are life-changing.

Sponsors and donors who want to get involved in the Mandela Day Surgery Project can contact Shanaaz Dove on 021 404 2002. Companies will receive certificates for TAX purposes.

Watch our Mandela Day Surgeries Project 2019 videos:



Media Enquiries: 

Mark van der Heever
Deputy Director: Communications
Western Cape Government Health
Tel: 021 483 3716
Cell: 078 589 4156
Email: Mark.vanderheever@westerncape.gov.za
Website: www.westerncape.gov.za