Picture: Supplied
Picture: Supplied

#CancerCrisis: The rot behind Durban's broken cancer machines

By Zohra Teke Time of article published Jun 18, 2017

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Embattled KZN Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo faces more calls for his removal, with the ANC in the province set to study a report by the South African Human Rights Commission that found he had violated cancer patients’ rights to access health-care services in the province.

“We raised some concern over his performance last year when we did an assessment of all MECs after we took office as the new administration. We gave him the opportunity to resolve the challenges we identified and have not done another assessment since then. We have not seen the report from the commission, so we will need to study its findings before the party decides on how it wants to address the issue,” ANC provincial secretary Super Zuma told the Sunday Tribune.

The investigation into Dhlomo and the Department of Health was prompted by a complaint by the DA regarding the provision of health-care services for oncology patients in the province.

The commission concluded that Dhlomo, together with Addington Hospital and Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital, had violated the rights of oncology patients as a result of their failure to comply with norms and standards set out in legislation and policies.

The report calls for the immediate repair of oncology machines and for the department to implement a plan of action to treat cancer patients and submit a response to the commission within 10 days.

The report is a damning finding against the department, which has been mired in controversy over its leadership battles and allegations of poor service delivery. Its latest oncology crisis came to a head when its last remaining oncologist left the sector two weeks ago, prompting a renewed public outcry against the department. The Health and Other Services Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (Hospersa) welcomed the commission’s findings, but said it did not go far enough.

KZN Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo. 

“The report vindicates our call that Dhlomo should resign immediately. It is also not correct to state that there is a shortage of oncologists. The truth is oncologists are refusing to work in KZN public hospitals. We identified the problems way back in 2009 and nothing was done about it,” said Hospersa spokesperson Noel Desfontaines.

The National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) said it had raised its concerns with provincial health head of department Dr Sifiso Mtshali at a recent meeting. “We understand they are facing budget cuts and want to give them an opportunity to resolve the issue, but we will also be marching to the premier’s office next month to raise our concerns.

“If the department does not address the matter then, we will call for the dismissal of the entire top leadership of the department, including MEC Dhlomo,” said Nehawu provincial secretary Phakama Ndunakazi.

Mtshali said the department welcomed the commission’s report. “We are already implementing some of the recommendations and will submit these to the commission as part of our response. Our primary concern is to ensure services for our oncology patients are implemented through our agreement with the private sector,” said Mtshali.

Dhlomo did not respond to requests for comment on the findings against him.

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