KZN Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo

Durban – Embattled KwaZulu-Natal health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo has met with the South African Human Rights Commission, which two weeks ago fingered him as being responsible for the collapse in the province’s oncology services. 

“The South African Human Rights Commission can confirm that the KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Health, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo has met with SAHRC to discuss the SAHRC’s findings on the provision of cancer treatment at Addington Hospital and Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital (IALC Hospital) in KwaZulu-Natal,” according to a statement released by the commission on Monday afternoon. 

“Dr Dhlomo has committed to providing a detailed response to the commission’s report by Friday 30 June 2017. The commission will assess the response upon receipt and make a determination as to further action,” read the statement. 

Dhlomo and his department were singled out in the SAHRC report as having “violated the rights of oncology patients at the Addington and Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospitals to have access to health care services as a result of their failure to apply with applicable norms and standards set out in legislation and policies”. 

The report came in the wake of revelations that Durban’s public oncology services had been stripped of practitioners, with doctors leaving for the private sector because of unsatisfactory working conditions that included lack of working equipment. 

“In line with the information secured during its investigation of the complaint, it appears there has been conspicuous failure to provide adequate oncology services in the KZN province for a considerable time,” according to the report. 

The report -- the result of a complaint laid by the Democratic Alliance last year -- also found that the measures the provincial health department told the SAHRC it would put in place to end the crisis were “inadequate and unacceptable”. 

Last week, KZN premier Willies Mchunu announced in legislature that that provincial treasury had taken over administration and procurement at the provincial health department. 

“Provincial Treasury will be making a Section 18 intervention in terms of the Public Finance Management Act to temporarily control the supply chain management function in the [provincial health] department until such time as the necessary financial management controls are in place,” according to KwaZulu-Natal premier, Willies Mchunu. 

The premier also said that he had given serious consideration to the calls to fire Dhlomo but decided that Dhlomo should not be axed. 

“In my assessment, you can’t lay the blame solely on him,” he said.