New cervical cancer machines will not reduce treatment waiting times

Democratic Alliance media statement by Dr Imran Keeka, MPL

DA KZN Spokesperson on Health


New cervical cancer machines will not reduce treatment waiting times


The DA welcomes the launch of the Large Loop Excision of the Transition Zone (LLETZ) machines today. These cervical cancer machines are a valuable tool that will be put in the hands of doctors in the various gynaecology departments across KZN.

Without doubt, it will be able to treat identified cases of early cervical cancer. However, while this tool is effective and will reduce the number of referrals for oncology services, it is not going to reduce the current waiting time in the oncology department. This, because the crisis is no better than before except for the arrival of two oncologists from the Wits Consortium. Their contract with the KZN Department of health will expire at the end of August 2018.

KZN currently uses Liquid based Cytology to identify high risk cervical cancer patients.  This method is highly accurate and people must be encouraged to have regular PAP smears so that any possibility of early cervical cancer can be caught in time.

Cancer of the Cervix is by far the highest ranking cancer that was seen at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital from April 2015 to 31 March 2016 where 506 patients were seen.  From 1 April 2016 to 19 March 2017, 436 patients were seen.  This was followed by 384 and 388 breast cancer cases in the respective years. See response to Parliamentary questions here.

The invitation sent to the media suggesting that these machines will reduce the already prolonged waiting times, up to a year in many cases,  is misleading and must be seen as an insult to those already in the queue.  It is also part of MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo’s ongoing propaganda exercise in an attempt to paint himself out of a corner which he created.  As a result of his violation of patients’ rights to access cancer treatment, hundreds if not thousands of patients have lost their lives during this crisis.  He must not use the addition of LLETZ  to the arsenal of gynaecologists as a tool to  bolster his image as the saviour of patients with cancer. He has presided over their deaths and ongoing suffering without accountability for far too long.

I will write to MEC Dhlomo expressing my concern regarding the beguiling nature of the invitation.  It is certainly an affront to those who are languishing in hospices and at home because of the lack of provision of oncology services. I will also send Parliamentary questions which will seek clarity regarding the distribution of this equipment and the time frames within which it will be put to use.  The public must also know how long it will take from the time a PAP smear is taken to receiving treatment if indicated.

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