Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital Opens New Infectious Diseases Centre | Western Cape Government

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Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital Opens New Infectious Diseases Centre

14 October 2013

Pneumonia remains the major cause of death in children worldwide despite the fact that it is preventable, according to health professionals at South Africa’s renowned children’s hospital. This is one of the many motives that resulted in the building of the new Centre for Childhood Infectious Diseases (CCID) and the Research Centre for Adolescent and Child Health, which officially opens today at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa.

This new facility is the first paediatric clinical research centre in a children’s hospital in South Africa. The Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital has one of only a few clinical units providing tertiary-level care for children with infectious diseases in South Africa and since 2002, HIV-related mortality at the hospital was decreased by more than 70% as a direct result of the treatment children received at the Unit. The Paediatric Infectious Diseases Unit and the Research Centre for Adolescent and Child Health will now have a combined facility to house their activities, as opposed to the activities of these units being scattered throughout the hospital site as it has been in the past.

The Children’s Hospital Trust, fundraiser for the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital and Paediatric Healthcare in the Western Cape, raised the R20.7million needed to build and equip the new facility which will centralise the activities of these vital Units. With dedicated space for combined clinical, training and research activities, the new Centre will have improved operational efficiency and therefore greater output.

The new Centre will have a far greater impact than within the Western Cape as research findings from work done by these two Units have already improved the management of childhood diseases on the African continent and globally. The CCID will continue to assist in the development of provincial, national and global treatment guidelines for children with infectious diseases. Several cutting edge clinical research projects and studies are already scheduled for the next few years, such as a study of better ways to diagnose and treat TB in children including what doses are needed for adequate treatment, and of the interaction between TB medication and antiretroviral drugs.

The Research Centre for Adolescent and Child Health (REACH) is a training and research hub for child health specialists undertaking revolutionary clinical research that addresses the most important childhood diseases in Africa. Research emanating from this unit has led to better care for children through advances in prevention, diagnosis and management of common childhood illnesses such as tuberculosis, asthma and pneumonia – the major killer of children under five years of age. The new centre provides a more spacious working environment, better facilities and expanded opportunities for training. REACH will build much-needed capacity as it serves as a central hub supporting paediatric clinical research sites in several other community and hospital settings.

An important related function is the training of infectious diseases sub-specialists. The existing Paediatric Infectious Diseases Unit is one of a few that are registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa, and one of three in South Africa to successfully train paediatric infectious diseases sub-specialists.

The Children’s Hospital Trust has been privileged to have worked in partnership with the Western Cape Government: Health on many projects to improve the services of the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital and is honoured to have been able to fully fund the building of this new facility with the support of loyal donors.

The Children’s Hospital Trust is committed to maintaining the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital’s reputable status as a state-of-the-art child health institution through funding the Hospital’s upgrades, equipment needs, research, training and capital works projects that impact on the healthcare of children in Africa and globally.

Centre for Childhood Infectious Diseases and Research Centre for Adolescent & Child Health

  • The incidence and severity of childhood pneumonia was highest in Africa and southeast Asia, which accounted for 30% and 39% respectively of the global burden of severe cases.
  • In 2010, there were approximately 15 million hospitalisations for severe lower respiratory tract infections in children globally and 99% of deaths occurred in low or middle income countries.
  • Statistics reveal that approximately 50,000 new TB cases were reported in the Western Cape in 2010, an incidence rate of 885 per 100,000. According to the World Health Organization, at least 10% of all TB cases occur in children, implying that there is a sizeable number of children with TB in the Cape Metro district which contains about 70% of the population of the Western Cape, and is also the district in which the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital is situated.
  • Clinicians working in the Centre for Childhood Infectious Diseases (CCID) provide a clinical service for children with complex or advanced infectious diseases problems including severe HIV infection, drug-resistant TB, hospital-acquired infections and underlying primary immune-deficiencies.
  • The centre will serve as a central hub, supporting and growing several satellite facilities including community based facilities. Other research and studies that are scheduled for the first two years include: studies of new and better ways to diagnose Tuberculosis; investigating various aspects of HIV-related complications in older children; a study of whooping cough that is re-emerging in young children; study of diarrhoea in children and the impact of rotavirus vaccine; supporting a satellite facility where a birth cohort study is currently underway to investigate the causes and risk factors for pneumonia in children and the long term impact on child health.


Media Enquiries: 

Lauren O’Connor-May
Communications Officer: Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital
Western Cape Government Health
Tel: 021 658 5448
E-mail: Lauren.O'