Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in South Africa is the largest hospital in the world. Located southwest of Johannesburg, the Hospital expands over 173 acres, consists of 429 buildings, and has 2,964 beds.
The Hospital is the only public hospital providing medical care to approximately 3.5 million, and as a specialty hospital, patients travel there from all over the country and the surrounding African nations. The hospital employs almost 5,000 people, including 600 doctors and 2,000 nurses.
Patients pay according to income and marital status, with approximately 80% classified as “hospital patients”. There is no charge for maternity cases and all children under the age of 6 years old. Approximately 20% of patients are classified as “private patients,” which include medical aid plan members.
The Hospital dates back to 1939 when there was a great need to treat a backlog of patients in the British Empire, including military personnel. In September 1940, the Secretary of State in London formally asked the South African Government to provide health care facilities for the Imperial troops under command in the Middle East. Two hospitals were suggested, and in November 1941 one was constructed near Johannesburg. The British Government paid 328,000 pounds for 1,544 hospital beds, and they named the facility “The Imperial Military Hospital, Baragwanath.”
Due to an urgency created by the Second World War, the Hospital admitted its first patients in May 1942, with an official opening in September 1942. The Hospital originally treated the casualties of the war, mainly from the Middle East. Toward the end of the war, the Hospital treated mostly Tuberculosis patients.
After the war, the South African Government had bought the hospital for one million pounds. Over the next 30 years the Hospital grew in size and status to its nearly 3,000 hospital beds today. In 1997, the hospital name changed to “Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital” after the murder of the prominent activist, Chris Hani.