#KZNOncology: Crisis far from over as Addington Hospital stops all chemotherapy treatment

Democratic Alliance media statement by Dr Imran Keeka, MPL

DA KZN Spokesperson on  Health

 

#KZNOncology: Crisis far from over as Addington Hospital stops all chemotherapy treatment

 

The DA in KwaZulu-Natal has been reliably informed that all chemotherapy for cancer patients has been stopped at Addington Hospital while there is a very limited service at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital (IALH) – this as a result of a critical drug shortage.

To make matters worse, new patients are also having to wait for as long six months for radiation treatment with planning clinic bookings only being made for February next year. This is then followed by a wait of another month for a scan and then yet another month, at least, before treatment begins.

To add to this dire situation, one of the three doctors deployed as part of the Wits Consortium contract left IALCH at the end of October. The DA has also been informed that only the head of oncology at this hospital is currently registered as a specialist. This essentially means that while the other doctors may have passed their final medical exams, they may not practice as specialists until they have completed their other specialist qualification requirements such as the MMed (Master of Medicine) component.

Given the situation at IALH and Addington, it is difficult to comprehend how KZN Health MEC, Sibongiseni Dhlomo can possibly claim that the province’s Oncology crisis is over. Clearly, this is nothing more than a blatant lie.

Chemotherapy and radiation form the backbone of Oncology treatment for cancer sufferers. Yet, in the case of Chemo, there is a shortage of major drugs used to provide the service while new patients must wait for months on end for radiation – this, at what are supposed to be the province’s main Oncology treatment hospitals.

In addition to the current capacity crisis at Addington and IALH, there are also stock outs and critical shortages of other oncology-related drugs. This includes;

  • No Eptoposide – a drug used to treat a variety of cancers.
  • No Paclitaxel which needs to be given with Herceptin. This drug is used primarily used to treat breast cancer but is also used for other cancers as well
  •         Limited stock of the other texane group of drugs including Docetaxel which form part of the chemo regimen for a variety of cancers.

With such shortages, the MEC also cannot claim that children are receiving treatment.  Either he is lying or his staff are lying to him.

The DA will again approach the South African Human Rights Commission to alert them of this serious situation.

We will also write to National Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi to call for his intervention. Clearly he is not fully appraised of the situation in KZN after his recent reckless statement, where he said that the oncology crisis in our province is over and must be condemned as false.

MEC Dhlomo’s ongoing attempts to mislead the public – through the dissemination of information that provides false hope – are nothing more than a pathetic political stunt.  Yet, despite his obvious failings as an MEC, KZN Premier Willies Mchunu and the ANC continue to protect him.

The DA again calls on the Premier to act in the interests of the millions of KZN citizens and fire MEC Dhlomo. Until this happens, our province’s healthcare system will remain on its knees.

DA to query failing ANC Move to move transfer 300 residential stands from Ward 69 to Ward 71

Democratic Alliance media statement by Zamani Khuzwayo, CLLR

DA EThekwini Councillor

 

DA to query failing ANC Move to move transfer 300 residential stands from Ward 69 to Ward 71

 

The DA in EThekwini has written to the city’s Head of Human Settlements, Ms Beryl Mphakathi, and the Human Settlement Committee Chair, Cllr Mondli Mthembu, for a report on the decision to move 300 Community Residential Units from Bayview (Ward 69) to Moorton Drives Ward 71.

During a full council meeting, on the 30th October 2018, the Democratic Alliance in eThekwini was shocked at by the decision taken by the city to move the residential units. Residents of Bayview have for over 2-years waited for the project to come to light and will be devastated by the sudden move.

It is suspicious that, soon after winning ward 71 in a by-election, the failing ANC has seen it fit to transfer a community development project to this ward.

This is typical of the failing ANC in eThekwini and a usual move before elections to flood failing ANC wards with service delivery as an election ruse. It is a blatant misuse of power and leaves citizens in other wards without service delivery.

People cannot be coerced into voting for any organization for fear of being stripped amenities and services that are their constitutional right. It’s a constitutional right to access decent housing.

The Democratic Alliance has no problem with the delivery of services what we do not support is the failing ANC using its majority in council to move approved and long-awaited services from one community over another.

We call on the mayor to explain to the residents of Bayview when they can expect their houses and to answer why they are suddenly being shafted by the failing ANC.

DA barred from conducting oversight visit at SAPS Garage in Pietermaritzburg.

Democratic Alliance media statement by Zwakele Mncwango, MPL

DA KZN Premier Candidate

DA barred from conducting oversight visit at SAPS Garage in Pietermaritzburg.

The Democratic Alliance has written to the KZN Acting Commissioner Lieutenant-General Lucky Mkhwanazi requesting a meeting on Monday 5 November 2018. This follows an oversight inspection today at Oribi Village SAPS garage where myself and my colleague MPL Rishigen Viranna were barred from conducting an oversight inspection under the ”instructions” from the Commissioner.

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Please click here for a soundbite by Zwakele Mncwango and here for a soundbite by Rishigen Viranna.

It is our right and duty as MPLs to conduct oversight inspections, announced or unannounced. This right is enshrined in our constitution, as per sections 114(2)b “to maintain oversight of – the exercise of provincial executive authority in the province, including the implementation of legislation; and any provincial organ of state” and section 206(3) of the constitution: “Each province is entitled to monitor police conduct; to oversee the effectiveness and efficiency of the police service, including receiving reports on the police service; to promote good relations between the police and the community; to assess the effectiveness of visible policing; and to liaise with the Cabinet member responsible for policing with respect to rime and policing in the province.”

“Our oversight inspection to the SAPS Garage in Oribi Village Pietermaritzburg came about after an alarming newspaper report stating that there were over 300 police vehicles at the site. We wanted to fact find as to why police vehicles were not being repaired or serviced in a timeous manner. We also wanted to inspect the actual infrastructure at the facility, as our 2014 oversight visit revealed some serious issues when it came to infrastructure” says Mncwango.

In order for SAPS to be effective, we need to find out what problems SAPS face, and address these problems. For the SAPS to do their job, and to do it well, the SAPS needs vehicles. SAPS member cannot conduct their jobs efficiently if they don’t have the necessary resources. We are worried that communities are complaining about the response time of the police, yet cars are piling up at this garage.

Ultimately the DA is committed to a crime free country, and to make this a reality, SAPS must have the proper resources to do their work and end crime.

Says Mncwango: “The DA has for years been exercising its constitutional right to oversight of SAPS and we will not stop doing so now. We will communicate this to Acting Commissioner Lieutenant-General Mkhwanazi in no uncertain terms”.

Only the DA can bring change that builds One South Africa for all by ensuring we have an honest, professional and well-resourced police service that keeps our communities safe.

DA against eThekwini’s reckless borrowing of R1 Billion

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Democratic Alliance media statement by Nicole Graham, Cllr

DA EThekwini Caucus Leader

DA against eThekwini’s reckless borrowing of R1 Billion

The Democratic Alliance in eThekwini has voted against an item for the municipality to invite tenderers for a R1 billion loan to the city. The item was approved by the failing ANC-led Council in their October meeting.

Whilst borrowing to finance capital projects is fairly common, the DA’s city leadership believes that there are three key factors that need to be considered- the economic climate, the rate of spending and debt collection.

The city’s economy is not in a good state. Its growth is virtually stagnant and the rates base is only growing due to property valuations increasing; not due to increased investment.

The municipality’s days cash on hand has slipped from 84 to 74 in just two months as collection becomes more and more difficult.

Chief amongst the defaulters are government departments and parastatals, who owe eThekwini over R900 million rand. The DA’s stance is clear- treat government as an ordinary consumer and cut their services off if they don’t pay. It is completely illogical to be borrowing a billion rand when you cannot recover the R940 million that is owed to you.

Lastly, spending in eThekwini doesn’t cease when the economic climate worsens. Overseas trips, Mayoral events, and lavish spending are the order of the day, despite national government circulars requesting frugal spending. Ratepayers and citizens should not be burdened by a city government that cannot tighten its belt.

The DA will be keeping a close eye on eThekwini’s financial health and providing regular feedback and accountability to the public. Only the DA has a proven track record of transforming municipal finances in South Africa, and that’s what we plan to do in eThekwini come 2021.

#KZNOncologyCrisis – Screening campaign cannot be used to disguise a failed Health MEC

Democratic Alliance media statement by Dr Imran Keeka, MPL

DA KZN Spokesperson on  Health

#KZNOncologyCrisis – Screening campaign cannot be used to disguise a failed Health MEC

 

The Democratic Alliance in KwaZulu-Natal welcomes the launch of the National Cancer Campaign by National Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi in the province today and hopes that this initiative will create a greater awareness of the various types of cancer and allow for early detection.

In KZN, it is the cancers which affect women that form a large percentage of conditions. Breast cancer has now been overtaken by cervical cancer yet these two cancers are by no means the only type that oncologists see.

With the introduction of the screening campaign, the DA is however deeply concerned that the result will be much higher numbers of detection, which the province does not have the capacity to fully manage.

We also have concerns around whether  KZN’s Health Department under MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo is capable of properly managing patients going forward – particularly while there remains no sign of the R100million promised by President Ramaphosa for oncology services in the province. The DA raised this issue during a recent KZN Health portfolio committee meeting with the result that HOD Dr Gumede could not tell us when and if it will be made available.

This money is critical when it comes to addressing the multitude of problems currently collapsing the province’s oncology services. These include;

  • An ongoing shortage of oncologists. Ethekwini has just two full-time oncologists and three on a temporary contract. In Pietermartizburg, there are now three oncologists after one resigned earlier this year. Queen Nandi does not have an onsite oncology service – as is often misstated by MEC Dhlomo – with cancer patients from this facility and from Ngwelezana being sent for treatment to oncologists on temporary contract with the Department;
  • Major delays in getting patients to oncologists. Addington Hospital does not have a radiologist that is able to report on staging CT Scans and investigations for cancer patients that require such a service with the hospital having gone so far as to request help from other facilities;
  • Ongoing issues with the functionality of KZN’s mammography service facilities. A May 2018 written parliamentary reply (view here) from MEC Dhlomo confirmed that Queen Nandi Regional Hospital was not able to offer oncology services due to the unit not being licensed since there is no radiologist. Meanwhile, Prince Mshiyeni Memorial could also not offer services at the time as the mammography unit was broken and was going in for repairs. The response does not state that the mammogram at RK Khan’s Hospital has not been working for more than a year. Nor does it mention the fact that Addington Hospital’s machines either don’t work at all or break down frequently; and
  • The outcome of this is that patients who require CT Scans – those with suspected cancers or that require staging CT Scans to check how far the cancer has spread – must wait anything up to three months to have a scan. The DA has verified this during oversight inspections. To make matters worse, by the time patients finally get an appointment with an oncologist, they are told that the scans are old and have to be repeated, putting them back into a vicious waiting cycle.

To compound these issues, Addington’s nuclear physics department, essential for oncology services, has also closed. The result is that patients are being referred to King Edward VIII hospital and Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital which already have their own patient loads.

The DA has also received complaints regarding shortages of Chemotherapeutic drugs and related medicines after the issue was also picked up by NGO’s monitoring the supply of these medicines. Yet President Ramaphosa, his Health Minister and many of their provincial Health MEC’s have remained sitting on their hands while patients continued to die. In many cases, patients did not receive treatment and were simply sent home and told to come back the next day.

While surgical services at most KZN facilities do not have severe backlogs and cancer patients are prioritised, equipment such as Endoscopy equipment – used in this case for diagnosis of cancer and in procedures – is not always working and in some cases, patients wait for several months to have an investigation. In many cases this is too late because cancer does not wait for an appointment, it spreads.

The situation in our province is dire, yet MEC Dhlomo continues to mislead the public – most recently around the number of KZN cancer patients waiting for treatment and for how long they have been waiting.

In a report presented to the National Health Council earlier this year, it was stated that there are around 8 000 KZN patients waiting for oncology services. Yet, in an executive statement in June, MEC Dhlomo, disputed this, saying there were 3 000 patients waiting, with 500 added since the resumption of services in May 2018.

While the numbers are being debated, people are waiting and their cancer is not.  Even if Dhlomo is being straightforward about the 500 patients it still does not explain what happened to the original 7 500. Did they die while waiting?  The MEC is still unable to tell us this.  We already know via parliamentary replies and the MEC’s executive statement that some 530 cancer patients died while waiting for treatment.

The DA hopes that when the ANC national executive chose KZN to launch this campaign, they did so for the right reasons and not to bolster the image of a failed, human-rights violating Health MEC. If anything, they should use their positions to deal with him after KZN Premier Willies Mchunu and the ANC in this province have done nothing to ensure accountability.

As we enter the final run-up to elections, the uncaring ANC will continue to make false promises while continuing to deliver inadequate services riddled with corruption.  The people of KZN must punish them for this and get rid of incompetence and failing healthcare services when they go to the ballot box next year.