A shortage of staff and broken oncology equipment is putting patients in danger in KZN. File picture: African News Agency
Durban – The Democratic Alliance on Saturday welcomed the South African Human Rights Commission’s (SAHRC) statement that the report on KwaZulu-Natal’s oncology crisis has been completed and will soon be published.

“According to SAHRC chairperson Bongani Majola the commission will now follow their own internal procedures which includes publishing the report on their website and issuing a media statement in this regard,” DA MPL Iman Keeka said.

The SAHRC had also advised that the report had already been sent to the respondents as well as to the speakers of the national and provincial parliaments who, at this stage, had not acknowledged receipt.

“The report has confirmed what the DA has been saying all along, namely that ​equipment vital for screening and treatment is either broken or non-existent, that there is a shortage of staff, and that there is a massive backlog which is resulting in curable cancers rapidly becoming incurable,” Keeka said.

“We express our gratitude to the SAHRC for being one of the few remaining Chapter 9 institutions seemingly not under state capture. Our country is currently treading a fine line in its first attempt at democracy and we are in a race against time to ensure that it succeeds. The DA remains committed to this project,” Keeka said.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the SAHRC said the complaint, received on or about February 19, 2016, raised a number of problems regarding the provision of health care services to oncology patients in KwaZulu-Natal.

“The complainant alleged that there were insufficient radiotherapy treatment devices and facilities in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, which had a negative impact on the treatment of patients living with cancer in the province. The radiotherapy machines used for radiotherapy treatment at Addington Hospital were not working.

“This therefore resulted in delays in the treatment of oncology patients which the complainant attributed to the shortage of functional health technologies. The complainant further alleged that the department of health in KwaZulu-Natal was failing to provide oncology patients with adequate health care services,” the SAHRC said.

“The extensive investigation initiated by the commission found that the respondents, being Addington Hospital, Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital (IALC Hospital), the department of health KwaZulu-Natal, and the MEC of KwaZulu-Natal health, have violated the rights of oncology patients at the Addington and IALC Hospitals to have access to health care services as a result of their failure to comply with applicable norms and standards set out in legislation and policies.

“The commission’s binding recommendations in terms of section 13 (1) (a) (i) of the SAHRC Act are that the respondents are required to immediately take steps to repair and monitor all the health technology machines regardless of contractual disputes yet to be finalised through the courts; that a management plan be adopted to deal with the backlog through, among others, entering into interim public/private partnership arrangements with private oncologists, medical officers, radiotherapists, and oncology nurses, and that an interim referral management plan be developed to facilitate the referral of patients to private service providers for screening, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer.

“The respondents are required to report to the commission within 10 days of receipt of the report into its investigation,” the SAHRC statement said.