#KZNOncologyCrisis: Reintroduction of Addington radiotherapy another cheap publicity stunt by MEC Dhlomo

Democratic Alliance media statement by Dr Imran Keeka, MPL

DA KZN Spokesperson on Health

 

#KZNOncologyCrisis: Reintroduction of Addington radiotherapy another cheap publicity stunt by MEC Dhlomo

 

The Democratic Alliance welcomes reports that the first treatment of radiotherapy at Addington Hospital took place on Wednesday this week, in the facility’s now partially-functional oncology unit.

While this is a step in the right direction towards resolving the province’s ongoing Oncology crisis, there is still a long way to go and the DA regards the publicising of this event as a cheap media stunt on the part of KZN Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo and his Department. A further indictment against the MEC and his Department is that the patient, a woman with advanced cervical cancer, is receiving palliative rather than curative treatment. This is what happens when oncology services do not function properly.

The reality is that radiotherapy at Addington is likely to be placed on hold until such time as more oncologists are available and the Department’s revamp of this facility is complete. This view is supported by the recent admission by the MEC and his Acting Head of Department’s to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) that waiting times for oncology treatment in KZN are currently as long as 12 months. It is also backed by the fact that there are no Oncologists available in eThekwini, apart from the recently qualified Dr Zuma and those on a six month contract with the Department of Health (DoH).

Our province’s Oncology crisis is of the MEC’s making. He should not try to present himself as the saviour of cancer sufferers. He has had numerous opportunities over several years to have oncology machines fixed and retain oncologists, yet he has failed to do so. It is purely as a result of his being under duress by the SAHRC that the machine at Addington has finally been fixed and treatment administered.

The DA will continue to closely monitor progress or lack thereof when it comes to Oncology services in the province. We will also continue to demand that patients receive treatment and that they do not die untimely deaths as a result of an incompetent MEC and his Department. We will today write to the SAHRC regarding the Department’s announcement and will request that their KZN office conduct regular unannounced visits to verify whether treatment is in fact being given daily at Addington or whether, as we suspect, this statement was just for show.

The DA will continue to hold MEC Dhlomo to account for the deaths of 499 cancer patients in our province. We will also continue to hold him to account for the many people who died while waiting for treatment. Our work in this regard is ongoing and while the MEC has refused to admit culpability, we believe that a court of law will find that he must be charged, if not for murder, then at least culpable homicide.

We re-iterate our call to Premier Mchunu to fire MEC Dhlomo. Failure to do so will see him leave a legacy which includes the violation of human rights.

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