Independent On-line, 20 November 2002, MasterCard pledges half a million for Aids

South African companies are now joining hands to fight the deepening crisis of Aids.

The latest high profile corporate involvement comes from MasterCard Southern Africa. In an emotionally-charged ceremony on Tuesday, Mastercard pledged R500 000 to St Mary's Hospital in Mariannhill, a private State-aided Catholic mission hospital outside Pinetown, servicing a population of 750 000.

Handing over a giant facsimile of the cheque to Douglas Ross, the hospital's superintendent, on Tuesday, Eddie Grobler, senior vice president and general manager of MasterCard Southern Africa said that South Africans had a long "culture" of getting involved. As responsible corporate citizens there is a deep need to get closer to communities."

In forming this new relationship with those on the "battleground" of HIV/Aids, Grobler said that his company was saluting "extraordinary deeds and extraordinary attitudes by extraordinary people".

Mastercard has also pledged its double-ringed logo, more associated with credit cards, ATM machines and golf sponsorship, one step further with a sponsored national television advertising campaign showing the work that the hospital does in caring for Aids infected babies.

Accepting the cheque, which kicks off a "long-haul" commitment, Ross said that it could not have come at a more opportune time because hospital figures had risen to an average of five thousand patients a month.

"In this province an estimated five million people have Aids, most of them women and young children. You only have to look at our outpatients departments to realise that the flood of very ill and dying patients is growing daily."

Ross said that to cope with the numbers of deaths, the hospital - which celebrated its 75th anniversary last month - has had to triple the size of its mortuary.

The donation will be used to enhance the hospital's programme of care and treatment and to strengthen the needs of the community where there is a high incidence of poverty, malnutrition and a poor overall level of health. - Independent News Network - Group Aids writer