Cancer patient told to 'go home and die'
Mzawulungi Mkhize said he was turned away by the hospital in May and had since stayed at home.
Mkhize said when he first went to the hospital, he was given morphine and other painkillers and then sent home.
“I have lung cancer, but I don’t know what stage I am in. At the hospital, the nurses told me that no hospital would be able to help me as I had less than a year to live. That traumatised me. I couldn’t walk or eat, and things just got worse. I tried to convince them to transfer me to Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital but I was told to ‘just go home’ and wait for my death. That is so insensitive to say to a patient,” Mkhize told the Daily News on Sunday.
He had since started taking medication prescribed by a private doctor who was moved by his ordeal and offered his services to him for free.
“I started seeing this doctor a week ago and I can now eat and walk. I feel the difference already and even if I die, that will happen with dignity,” he said.
Dr Imran Keeka, the DA provincial spokesperson for health, said Mkhize’s life would have been better had he received treatment immediately. “Treatment would not cure his cancer but could possibly have slowed down the progression or reduced his suffering. Instead, he has been abandoned by false promises and talk of improving and expanding oncology services,” Keeka said.
“This is shocking and unacceptable. What is even worse is that he has not had a CT scan of his chest since then, and was given an appointment in August. This patient is the ideal candidate for palliative treatment, which would improve the quality of his life.
“Unfortunately he, and so many like him, has been abandoned. I will be forwarding his details together with others to the South African Human Rights Commission to form part of their continuous oversight over the implementation of their recommendations.”.
The commission had last year slammed the Health Department for its poor handling of the oncology crisis in provincial hospitals. This was after equipment for screening and treating cancer patients was found to be broken or non-existent in two major Durban public hospitals.
Health Department spokesperson Agiza Hlongwane said they needed the patient number to get specifics of the case.
He said there were cases that required palliative care and where this was not available, it became a challenge to deal with patients.