#KZNOncologyCrisis: Oncology services now worse than two years ago

Democratic Alliance media statement by Dr Imran Keeka, MPL

DA KZN Spokesperson on  Health

 

#KZNOncologyCrisis: Oncology services now worse than two years ago

 

An oversight inspection of Addington Hospital’s oncology unit has confirmed that the situation is now worse than it was two years ago when the DA first reported a province-wide oncology care crisis to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).

The DA’s inspection, conducted late last week, coincided with a visit by the national Health Portfolio Committee to the same hospital. Our inspection has revealed that:
• There are currently as many as 170 cancer patients who will have to wait for up to six months before they can receive radiotherapy;
• Only one of the facility’s two functional radiotherapy machines is in use due to a gross shortage of staff;
• The fact that the one machine has not been used was also evidenced by the fact that some components are still in their original plastic wrapping; and
• There remains just one oncologist and one radiotherapist on site.

The situation at this facility is unacceptable, particularly in light of KZN Health MEC, Sibongiseni Dhlomo’s recent efforts to create the impression that all is now well when the reality is in fact far from such.

When the DA first inspected Addington’s oncology unit in 2016, there were two oncologists. There were also another three oncologists at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital. Waiting times for cancer patients were also significantly shorter. Today, there are only two full-time oncologists in the whole eThekwini region with a further three on contracts that will expire at the end of this month.

The reality is that healthcare in KZN, under MEC Dhlomo, has collapsed. This view was substantiated by the National Health Portfolio Committee (NHPC) during its visit to the province last week.

Aside from the massive oncology issues, the Department is facing numerous other challenges which include the non-filling of critical and non-critical posts which is essential if universal access to healthcare is to succeed. The provincial Health portfolio committee was recently briefed by Treasury and informed that only 46 vacancies of non-critical posts such as porters and cleaners will be filled out of over 2 300 vacancies. This is simply shocking.

Then there is the malfeasance, lack of infrastructure maintenance and the ongoing failure to properly supply medicines, all of which the MEC and his Department have failed to tackle.

There can be no other immediate remedy but to fire MEC Dhlomo. It is the MEC who is the common denominator in the complete deterioration of healthcare services at almost all levels and it is the MEC whose lack of action and compassion has led to the deaths of more than 500 people in an ongoing oncology crisis.

The DA again calls on KZN Premier Willies Mchunu to remove MEC Dhlomo. It is unacceptable that he has dithered and allowed this MEC to continue to preside over the meltdown of KZN’s healthcare services.

In order for the people of KZN to have universal access to proper healthcare, the very basics need to work. Yet, the DA finds, on an almost daily basis, that the very opposite of a functional healthcare system exists in our province.

The ANC’s proposed National Health Insurance (NHI) will never function in the current environment.

The DA has offered a workable solution which we have produced in the form of “Our Health Plan”. It is a plan that is faster to implement and which will not burden the people of our country through extra taxation and charges.

The DA remains the only hope for healthcare to be caring and working for every South African.

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