JOHANNESBURG — Former President Nelson Mandela launched the fifth specialist children's hospital in Africa Friday, saying it was badly needed on a continent where millions who do not live to see their fifth birthday.
Mandela, who turned 91 on July 18, waved and greeted guests but no longer delivers speeches in public.
He said in a video message that African children deserve world-class treatment and the chance at a better future.
"This is not a luxury but a vital necessity that can no longer be delayed," he said.
The Nelson Mandela Children's Hospital will have a minimum of 200 beds and will house centers for the treatment of cancer, heart, liver, kidney and other ailments. Construction of the rands 1 billion (about $800 million) hospital will begin in late 2010 and is expected to be completed in 18 months.