Cervical cancer patient Alice Sibiya has waited more than one year to receive treatment. (Madelene Cronjé)

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

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

via GIPHY

Watch how waiting times for life-saving cancer treatment has grown as KwaZulu-Natal’s cancer services crumble. As the crisis grows, patients wait longer and longer for treatment. This information comes from the SAHRC’s report but Democratic Alliance spokesperson for health in KwaZulu-Natal Imran Keeka says he doubts the veracity of the information. Keeka alleges the data does not reflect patient backlogs at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital fuelled by a breakdown of treatment machines at Addington Hospital.

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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