Cancer treatment waiting times in KZN increase by almost 30% as services stall

Cancer patients are waiting up to nine months for treatment, says the South African Human Rights Commission.

KwaZulu-Natal cancer patients are now waiting nine months for treatment, alleges Democratic Alliance spokesperson for health in KwaZulu-Natal Imran Keeka.

In a statement, Keeka said South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) chairperson Bongani Majola revealed this new information during a recent provincial health portfolio committee meeting. Previously, the average waiting time for treatment was seven months.

The news comes almost four months after the SAHRC released a scathing report detailing the collapse of cancer services in the province. The document accused the KwaZulu-Natal health department and its MEC, Sibongiseni Dhlomo, of failing patients.

After more than a year of investigation, SAHRC revealed that the province lost one oncologist each month over a five-month period. From October to December 2016, a breakdown in cancer treatment machines forced Durban’s Addington Hospital to refer its patients to the nearby Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital for treatment.

Durban lost its last public sector specialist in June, leaving only two such professionals in the province at Grey’s Hospital in Pietermaritzburg.

As of August, health minister Aaron Motsoaledi had launched a two-week plan to resuscitate cancer services, taking over some of the province’s procurement and human resources functions, said former national health department spokesperson Joe Maila at the time.


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