As state hospitals in KwaZul-Natal continue to face an uphill battle in its oncology departments, five months have passed since the South African Human Rights Commission released its “damning” and “very little” has been done to solve this crisis. So said Dr Imraan Keeka, the Democratic Alliance’s spokesperson on health.

According to Keeka, who is also a member of the KZN Provincial Legislature, says that the SAHRC report found KZN Health MEC, Sibongiseni Dhlomo and his department guilty of violating the rights of cancer sufferers in the province when it failed to provide relevant services and treatment in the province’s two major hospitals.

“One might think that, following such a devastating finding, the MEC would do everything in its power to solve the crisis. Yet, the sad truth is that the outlook for cancer patients in KwaZulu-Natal is looking even more grim than before,” says Keeka.

Bongani Majola, the commission’s chairperson, revealed during a recent provincial health portfolio committee meeting, that since the release of the report, the average waiting period for treatment and curative therapy has in fact increased from seven to nine months.

Said Keeka: “What makes this situation even worse, is the confirmation from MEC Dhlomo in a reply to questions by the DA that between September 2016 and March 2017 the number of new and follow-up patients seen for the top five cancers at Addington Hospital was 3 869. This amounts to a staggering figure of more than 500 patients per month, at a single hospital, who are not receiving adequate cancer treatment.”
He said that his party remained committed to exposing the flaws within the provincial health department’s oncology services so that progress can be made and proper services resumed.

“In this regard, we have recently written to the National Health Ombudsman to query his role in the solution process. He has since confirmed that both he and the provincial Health Ombudsman have the matter in hand.
“The DA will query progress with the provincial ombudsman. Dhlomo’s failure to provide adequate services along with the violation of patients’ rights to access oncology services has led to hundreds of deaths. Yet he remains in his post with KZN Premier Willies Mchunu showing no intention of firing him.

“The people of our country and our province need a caring government – one that puts them first. The province’s ANC-led government must be punished for this lack of accountability,” Keeka said.