Johannesburg, Friday 6 December 2013 – Today, as the world mourns the passing of one of its most outstanding citizens and South Africa’s former President, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, Aspen, joins the millions of people worldwide, in expressing its deepest condolences to the family and friends of this humble leader.
Stephen Saad, Aspen Group Chief Executive said, “Although Madiba’s passing will leave a significant void, his decisive leadership, impeccable values and high moral standing will remain with us and we trust it will continue to inspire nations around the world. Aspen continues to draw inspiration from the leadership example set by Madiba. It is an example we have experienced first hand and which has touched the lives of countless fellow South Africans and others across the globe.”
In August 2013, Aspen and the Sifiso Nxasana Paediatric Trust donated R5 million towards the establishment of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital, demonstrating ongoing commitment to Mr Mandela’s vision to ensure that future generations of South Africans receive the healthcare that they rightly deserve.
Dr Judy Dlamini, Chairman of the Sifiso Nxasana Paediatric Trust said, “At a personal level, Madiba brought back my human dignity and African pride. He will continue to unite the nation through initiatives that will vastly improve specialist paediatric healthcare in the public sector and provide hope to thousands of children.”
Upon the inspired advice of Mandela and others, in April 2001 Aspen sponsored the greenfield establishment of the Engcobo Healthcare Centre, near Madiba’s ancestral home in the Eastern Cape. Engcobo, a primary care facility, was established to reduce the burden on surrounding public facilities and soon became a beacon of hope for many in the area who were provided with access to primary care services.
At the inauguration of this clinic, Aspen made a commitment to former President Mandela that it would continue its involvement at Engcobo. Aspen has remained true to this commitment and has provided ongoing support to the Engcobo Clinic for the twelve years since. It is not only the people of Engcobo that continue to benefit from this inspired decision, but indeed many hundreds of thousands more.
In the early days of anti-retrovirals (ARV’s), it was the hand of Mandela that once again emerged and as with the clinic, was able to provide hope to the most vulnerable in our society. With ARV treatment prices at $35 000 per patient per year and patents of offshore multinational companies strongly protected, this lifesaving medication seemed clearly out of reach for those who needed it most.
Many of these patients received their services at Engcobo, but without ARV’s their lives were at risk. Aspen shared footage of the joint Mandela/Aspen inspired clinic with leading multinational pharmaceutical companies to demonstrate the plight of these people. This proved to be a tipping point to some of these multinational companies who agreed to the granting of licenses on their ARV patents to Aspen and to partner with it in making ARVs more accessible to those who needed it. This enabled Aspen to pioneer the manufacture and distribution of generic ARV’s at some $180 per patient per year, a fraction of the $35 000. These meaningful acts accelerated the introduction of generic ARV’s and saved hundreds of thousands of lives. Madiba’s hand in this was both telling and significant. We thank him and honour him for these acts and many more that he carried out in his life.
Since 2011, Aspen has also embraced the Mandela International Day celebrated annually on 16 July – an initiative which lies close to the heart of its people around the world. This year Aspen participated in 36 projects in 14 countries on 6 continents which directly enhanced the lives of some 9 400 beneficiaries. The Group’s commitment to making a meaningful difference to others will continue as we remember the call made by Nelson Mandela who said, “We can change the world and make it a better place. It is in your hands to make a difference”.
As we pay our final respects to this remarkable man, the best way to honour him is to follow his examples of decisive leadership, impeccable values and high moral standing. Only then will we have made a difference in the lives of others, particularly those who are the most vulnerable in our society.