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People walk on a public passage at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, Johannesburg, in April 2014. (AFP) People walk on a public passage at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, Johannesburg, in April 2014. (AFP)

People walk on a public passage at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, Johannesburg, in April 2014. (AFP)

Jon Greenberg
By Jon Greenberg February 29, 2016

No, South Africa hospital is not the third-largest in the world

The Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital has been in the black township of Soweto in Johannesburg since World War II when it opened to care for British soldiers. Today, it is a sprawling compound of over 400 buildings housing about 3,200 beds.

Those numbers clearly mean a lot to management because on the hospital’s website, right under its name, is the statement "The world’s third-biggest hospital, in South Africa."

That’s not quite right, according to our colleagues at Africa Check.

Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital says it trails only West China Hospital, affiliated with Sichuan University in the city of Chengdu, with about 4,300 beds, and Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, which lists about 9,000 beds.

But Africa Check found an additional hospital that edges out the Soweto health center. The Clinical Centre of Serbia in Belgrade has 3,470 beds available.

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So Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital ranks at least fourth, not third. It’s actually not even a close fourth because repairs and renovations have trimmed the number of beds open right now. A hospital spokesman told Africa Check that a more accurate current total is 2,888.

For the curious, New York Presbyterian has 2,328 beds, Florida Hospital Orlando has 2,247 beds and the Hospital das Clinicas with the University of Sao Paulo Medical School has 2,200 beds.

Our ruling

Administrators of the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, Johannesburg, said theirs is the third-largest in the world. Today, the hospital has 2,888 useable beds. A hospital in Belgrade, Serbia, has 3,470.

The Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital is large, but not as large as it believes. We rate this statement Half True.

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No, South Africa hospital is not the third-largest in the world

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