Pediatric trauma has emerged as an important public health problem across the world. About 1.7 billion children and adolescents, mostly in low and middle-income countries, lack access to surgical care. This is according to the National Library of Medicine, which further alludes that there is limited data regarding the available pediatric surgical workforce in South Africa.
A non-profit organisation aimed at offering medical care for children has identified this challenge and is traveling across five provinces to solicit donations that will enable free surgeries for children.
Pediatric Care Africa is an organisation formed five years ago to provide free medical treatment and care for children. A retired medical doctor, Dr Andre Hattingh is the founder of the organisation.
“My name is Dr Andre Hattingh. I am a retired Doctor, I retired in 2017; I no longer practice medicine, specifically to found Pediatric Africa. It is a non-profit organisation registered in South Africa; we are also registered in the Netherlands. The purpose of Pediatric Care Africa is to take care of children that need medical treatment and surgery from the age of zero to 18; that is why we classify as Pediatrics,” says Dr Hattingh.
Dr Hattingh is riding across five provinces on a tractor to ask for donations that will help provide free surgeries for children in need.
“We are on a campaign called On Tractor. You see we are driving on a tractor, the distance is 2500km and we are doing that for five provinces. We started in Mpumalanga then Limpopo; now we are in the North West. Surgeries and medical treatment has become really expensive and the money is huge. I am now riding for three children; one child is seven years old. His tongue is glued, basically stuck to his mouth. The other child had an accident, he was run over by a vehicle; he needs two surgeries for that. The other child was born without a palate. She is now 16 or 17 years old.”
The NGO assists children from poor backgrounds. Dr Hattingh says the coronavirus pandemic has also taken its toll on them.
“Last year, of course, was a difficult year; not only for us but for everyone else. Last year we managed to help 320 children that required medical treatment or having to visit a doctor or specialist. The criteria for qualifying for assistance from us is, first of all, the mother and father must be unemployed and of course, must not have medical aid. We rely solely on the goodwill of the people of South Africa.”
Dr Hattingh will be leaving North West on Friday, en route to the Free State.