#KZNOncologyCrisisContinues: Almost 8 000 cancer patients waiting for treatment

Democratic Alliance media statement by Dr Imran Keeka, MPL

DA KZN Spokesperson on  Health

 #KZNOncologyCrisisContinues: Almost 8 000 cancer patients waiting for treatment

 

A report on the Investment Case for Radiation Oncology in South Africa (see here), recently presented to the National Health Council, has revealed that KwaZulu-Natal has the biggest backlog of cancer patients awaiting treatment in the entire country.

The report – a follow-up to the National Cancer Strategic Framework and National audit in 2017 and compiled by facility managers – shows statistics as at end December 2017 and also highlights non-functional equipment and inadequate staffing at cancer treatment centres. The Investment Case Report also outlines the demand for radiation oncology services, current supply constraints, the cost burden and compromise on care as a result of delayed treatment, the gaps in human resource and equipment capabilities and recommendations for financing.

In terms of the backlog in KZN, the numbers are horrific with almost 8 000 cancer patients waiting for treatment at the province’s three leading oncology hospitals. By far the worst is Inkhosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital (IALCH) where there is a backlog of 6 012 patients. This is followed by 1 932 at Addington Hospital and a further 132 at Greys.

Then there are the prolonged waiting times for radiation oncology which, in KZN, hospitals, currently exceeds the recommended waiting times of 6 – 8 weeks. These include;

  • IALH with a 24 – 26 week wait for radical treatment and an 8 – 12 week wait for gynaecology and prostate related cancer treatment.  At the Human Rights Commission hearing, the figure given under oath by KZN Health MEC, Sibongiseni Dhlomo amd his department was up to 12 months.  This is even worse.
  • Grey’s Hospital with a 1 – 36 week [or nine months] waiting period for MTD or new patients, a 28 week wait for gynaecology related cancers and a 36 week wait for prostate cancer

It is not understood why Addington Hospital did not report on the backlogs unless it was added into the data of IALCH.

The DA is deeply disturbed by these findings. In June last year, the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) – acting on our complaint – found MEC Dhlomo guilty of violating the rights of KZN’s cancer patients to adequate treatment. Despite numerous recommendations by the SAHRC since then, accompanied by ongoing reassurances by both the MEC and his Department that the situation has improved, it appears that very little has changed.

The same Report also shows that the average number of new radiation oncology patients during the period 2013/14 – 2106/2017 at each hospital were as follows;

  • Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital: 1 517
  • Addington: 594
  • Greys: 1 169

In spite of these huge numbers, there are also only two full time oncologists in eThekwini.  Grey’s hospital is now left with only three oncologists following the resignation of one doctor earlier this year.  Other oncologists are on temporary contracts following a recommendation by the SAHRC to enter into Public Private Partnerships [PPP's].  The DA is of the view that these temporary contracts do not completely satisfy this directive of the SAHRC.

What these statistics tell us is that, under the current circumstances, MEC Dhlomo and his Department provide no hope of addressing the lack of treatment and the resulting suffering of thousands of people. They also tell us that the ongoing publicity stunts aimed at bolstering the MEC and his Department’s image when it comes to this human rights atrocity are no more than lies.

A recent visit by the DA and the National Health portfolio committee to Addington found that only one of the hospital’s two oncology LINAC machines was in use because there were not enough staff to operate the second one.  This is yet another indictment against MEC Dhlomo and his Department.

In stark contrast, the DA-led Western Cape Department of Health [WCH] has 16 oncologists in two facilities, all the equipment works and waiting times are within the acceptable norms. The surgical departments also have equipment that works with the result that there are almost no treatment backlogs. The Department also has seventeen oncology registrars in training in that province and recently trained one of our province’s oncologists after KZN lost its accreditation to train specialists in this area.

Meanwhile, the DA’s Our Health Plan [OHP] provides for a properly funded healthcare solution for South Africa that is deliverable within five to seven years.  This can be done within the current fiscal framework or purse.  There will be no need to increase VAT or levy the population into further poverty as is possibly envisaged to roll out the ANC’s ill-fated National Health Insurance. The DA’s OHP also has mechanisms in place to improve medical education and alleviate the shortage of personnel required for a functional healthcare system.

It is clear that urgent intervention is required to turn the situation around in KZN, yet Premier Willies Mchunu is still sitting on his hands.  He can no longer tell us that there is a high level intervention team in place to turn KZN’s Health Department around after the Auditor-General’s recent comment to the province’s Health Portfolio Committee that this intervention team is not yielding the desired outcomes.

To add to the problem, the recent hostage situation within the Department has halted the work of this team.  The AG’s office also told the committee that while the Department’s leadership continually commits to improving matters, these promises never come to fruition.

Why the Premier has not yet fired MEC Dhlomo- when there has been so much suffering and death on his watch – is unfathomable. Is it not enough that more than 500 people have died as a result of the province’s oncology crisis? How many more deaths is he waiting for before he finally takes action? The DA expects him to do the right thing and fire this MEC.

The people of KZN have the choice at the ballot box next year. Either they can keep what has proved to be a merciless and uncaring government in office – or they can fire them. The corruption, maladministration and lack of leadership can no longer be tolerated.

Premier Mchunu and ANC failing to act against thugs in the province

Democratic Alliance media statement by Francois Rodgers, MPL

DA KZN Spokesperson on Finance

 

Premier Mchunu and ANC failing to act against thugs in the province

 

Claims that senior members of the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal are colluding with controversial groups such as Mkhonto weSizwe (MK) vets and the Federation for Radical Economic Transformation (FRET) in disrupting government business in the province points to a party that cannot escape its past while it drags the people of our province down with it.

The allegation, made in a media report earlier today, comes after ongoing disruptions to municipalities amid demands for jobs and tenders, culminating in several KZN government senior officials being held captive over a list of demands related to supply chain management.

It is increasingly clear that our province is being held hostage by thugs and that the ANC has to do something about it. This problem stems from a lack of accountability within the party’s own ranks and a lack of repercussions for those who have broken the law.  This is evidenced by the ANC-led provincial government’s failure to lay criminal charges against those responsible for holding several KZN Health Department officials captive earlier this month even after Sihle Zikalala – in his capacity as Acting Premier – threatened the arrest of all the people who invaded KZN’s government offices.

The DA has been reliably informed that, as a result of this hostage situation, the Treasury task team brought in to ensure better fiscal management within KZN’s DoH has now been recalled.  As a result, we have today submitted a written parliamentary question to KZN Finance MEC Belinda Scott asking whether there is any plan for this team to return to complete the job. Or is this going to be a case of the DoH continuing unchecked down its path of fiscal degeneration at the expense of proper health services to KZN’s people?

The people of our province can no longer be treated like second-class citizens. The continual havoc being witnessed brings instability to our province which results in economic adversity and a lack of investment and ultimately fewer jobs.

The DA expects KZN Premier Willies Mchunu to act in the best interests of the people of our province. He must show once and for all that he is prepared to act against those who continue to deliberately place the future of our province – and that of its people – at risk.

Moerane Commission: Premier bows to DA pressure for debate on KZN political killings

Democratic Alliance media statement by Zwakele Mncwango, MPL

DA KZN Premier Candidate

Moerane Commission: Premier bows to DA pressure for debate on KZN political killings

 

The Democratic Alliance has written to KZN Speaker, Lydia Johnson (see letter here) to request that all political parties in the provincial Legislature be afforded the opportunity to debate the contents of the Moerane Commission Report at a Sitting scheduled for 27 September.

The formal request comes after KZN Premier Willies Mchunu agreed to the DA’s proposal of a Debate during a Sitting held on Thursday last week during which the Report was finally tabled. The request also comes in terms of Rule 103.1 which is a Matter of Urgent Public Importance.

The DA believes that the detailed findings within the Moerane Commission Report – into the cause of ongoing political killings in the province – requires urgent Debate for the following reasons;

  • The Commission’s Report has cost millions to produce and all political parties need to make their comments
  • With the elections just months away, KZN’s political parties need to find a united voice in order to stop this scourge
  • The safety of the people of our province and the overall instability that such acts of violence brings must also be considered and addressed.

The DA expects the Speaker to respond within the appropriate time-frame. She cannot afford to ignore the DA’s request while our province continues to be wracked by such atrocities.

Moerane Commission: ANC abuse of power behind the political bloodbath in KZN

Democratic Alliance media statement by Zwakele Mncwango, MPL

DA KZN Premier Candidate

Moerane Commission: ANC abuse of power behind the political bloodbath in KZN

 

The Moerane Commission report, tabled earlier today in the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature has vindicated the DA’s long-held belief that the political bloodbath in the province is the result of a dysfunctional and failing ANC which is rife with corruption, particularly at local government level.

The long-awaited report into the reasons behind politically motivated murders in KwaZulu-Natal has painted a dangerous behind-the-scenes picture of an ANC-led provincial government that has failed to deal with an abuse of power as well as the lack of separation between party and state by its own officials.

The DA believes that the findings of the Moerane Commission are extremely damaging to the failing ANC and that its leadership in this province should hang their heads in shame. These murders are happening on their watch. Their own Comrades are killing each other. Those who are fighting against corruption are also being killed.

Furthermore, the Commission’s concerns around what is a largely ineffective provincial police force and a judicial system that has failed the people of KZN to date are entirely warranted. To date there are no convictions for these crimes – even while the report shows that it is possible to identify the ringleaders.

The time has come to move from who pulls the trigger to who orders the hits. To do this there must have increased crime intelligence in KZN. The DA has long called for this and we note the Commission’s support of this view.

Other areas of concern to the DA include;

  • The failure by eThekwini Municipality Mayor Zandile Gumede to abide by the Commission’s request for information around Glebelands. This is the height of arrogance and speaks directly to where her priorities lie;
  • The Premier’s failure to extend the Commission’s terms of reference to 1994 or 1996. In stating that they start from 2011 he has limited the Commission’s findings in terms of politically-related deaths in our province;
  • The Commission’s statement that it was delayed by insufficient resources. This while more people were dying in our province.

Yet another damaging view expressed by the Commission is that the concept of a democratic society is under threat in our province, with political competition and its attendant violence leading to voters being unwilling to engage and increased voter apathy. This ‘capture’ is evidenced by the ANC’s determination to politicise community structures.

This is creating an unhealthy environment where civic organisations no longer have a voice and where there is no accountability from government.

The Commission has recommended that an investigative task team including outside objective consultants and multi-party representation be launched. The DA supports this move. We also expect KZN Premier Willies Mchunu to hold his CoGTA MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube and her Department accountable for what is happening at local government level. This is where the problems begin.

The DA therefore calls for the following measures to be implemented without delay:

  • Enforcement of the Councillors’ Code of Conduct;
  • Enforcement of the MFMA – which clearly outlines the role of Councillors when it comes to tenders etc;
  • Appointment of Councillors based on merit rather than political connections;
  • Proper training of Councillors so that they know the boundaries of their role and
  • Education of communities so that they understand the parameters under which Councillors operate

The Moerane Commission’s report would not have been tabled today in this House were it not for the pressure by the public of KZN and opposition political parties. The reason for this is simple – the failing ANC does not care about the safety of KZN’s people. It only cares about votes ahead of next year’s election.

Umhlathuze Mayoral House will escalate to R20 million of public funds

Democratic Alliance media statement by Zwakele Mncwango, MPL

DA KZN Premier Candidate

Umhlathuze Mayoral House will escalate to R20 million of public funds

 

The oversight inspection by the Democratic Alliance in uMhlathuze Mayoral Mansion construction site revealed that the building project could escalate to an estimated R20 million, against the City’s R5.5 million budget.

In March this year, the DA wrote to the Municipal Manager, Dr Sibeko, to sought answers on the tender not being specifically categorised as a mayoral house and later defined as tools of the trade. The DA in the uMhlathuze Caucus also raised concerns on the budgeting as building construction consultants estimated the project to escalate to anything above R20 million when the city set aside R5.5 million.
With a budget of R20 million, uMhlathuze Municipality could have built 111 low-cost homes at a cost of R180 000 each. A caring government would have built these homes for the poor and underprivileged.
The DA will therefore write to the MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nomusa Dube kaNcube, to investigate the matter further as we feel that the ANC is detached from the challenges faced by residents of the city. Noting that the site was initially zoned for high-density housing and could have put up a number of family units that would benefit residents.
At this rate, the already cash-strapped Umhlathuze Municipality will dip into more financial constraints which will affect service delivery, especially for the poorest of the poor. Come the 2019 General Elections the residents of uMhlathuze have the chance to voice their concerns at the ballot box and vote for a government that has their interests at heart, not the interests of the connected few.
A vote for the DA is a vote for change. Change that will unite all South Africans and will create fair access to real and long-term jobs. Residents have the chance to play an active role in their lives by voting for a caring DA government.