KZN Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo

Durban – A deal has been reached between the KwaZulu-Natal health department and radiation oncology treatments and software maker Varian Medical Systems to restart two of the province’s cancer radiotherapy machines.

On Wednesday, the department said KwaZulu-Natal health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo had met with Jean-Luc Devleeschauwer president of Varian's Oncology Systems business in Europe, the Middle East, India and Africa.

“This morning’s meeting cemented the agreement that Varian, the manufacturer of the Addington installed machines will now be responsible for keeping the machines operational.”

The announcement follows an investigation by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) that ruled that the department had violated patients' human rights by providing insufficient oncologists and oncology equipment.

The investigation, which was launched following a complaint by the Democratic Alliance, revealed that patients were having to wait five months to see an oncologist and a further eight months to receive cancer radiotherapy treatment.

One of the orders given by the SAHRC was that the department needed to get sufficient staff and get the machines at Durban’s Addington Hospital operational as soon as possible.

Apart from Greys Hospital and Addington Hospital, the department has three machines at its flagship hospital in Durban, Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital.

Wednesday’s statement by the department provided no details on the nature of the deal between Varian and the department or when the machines would become operational. According to the statement Dhlomo met with Devleeschauwer as well as Celestine Mbongo.

“We are indeed excited that already, technicians from Varian are on the ground at Addington Hospital, and have been able to fix one of the oncology machines, while the second one is expected to be in working condition in due course,” Dhlomo was quoted as saying.

According to the statement, Dhlomo confirmed that the department had advertised for four oncologists. No comment was immediately available from Varian.