OPINION: ‘KZN Oncology Crisis far from over as Addington Hospital stops all chemotherapy treatment’

DEAR Editor,-

The DA in KwaZulu-Natal has been reliably informed that all chemotherapy for cancer patients has been stopped at Addington Hospital while there is a very limited service at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital (IALH) – this as a result of a critical drug shortage.

ALSO READ : OPINION: ‘KZN oncology crisis: Screening campaign cannot be used to disguise a failed Health MEC’

To make matters worse, new patients are also having to wait for as long six months for radiation treatment with planning clinic bookings only being made for February next year. This is then followed by a wait of another month for a scan and then yet another month, at least, before treatment begins.

To add to this dire situation, one of the three doctors deployed as part of the Wits Consortium contract left IALCH at the end of October. The DA has also been informed that only the head of oncology at this hospital is currently registered as a specialist. This essentially means that while the other doctors may have passed their final medical exams, they may not practice as specialists until they have completed their other specialist qualification requirements such as the MMed (Master of Medicine) component.

Given the situation at IALH and Addington, it is difficult to comprehend how KZN Health MEC, Sibongiseni Dhlomo can possibly claim that the province’s oncology crisis is over. Clearly, this is nothing more than a blatant lie.

Chemotherapy and radiation form the backbone of oncology treatment for cancer sufferers.

Yet, in the case of chemo, there is a shortage of major drugs used to provide the service while new patients must wait for months on end for radiation – this, at what are supposed to be the province’s main oncology treatment hospitals.

In addition to the current capacity crisis at Addington and IALH, there are also stock outs and critical shortages of other oncology-related drugs. This includes:-

* No Eptoposide – a drug used to treat a variety of cancers;
* No Paclitaxel which needs to be given with Herceptin which is used primarily used to treat breast cancer but is also used for other cancers as well;
* Limited stock of the other texane group of drugs including Docetaxel which form part of the chemo regimen for a variety of cancers.

With such shortages, the MEC also cannot claim that children are receiving treatment.  Either he is lying or his staff are lying to him. The DA will again approach the South African Human Rights Commission to alert them of this serious situation.

We will also write to National Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi to call for his intervention. Clearly he is not fully appraised of the situation in KZN after his recent reckless statement, where he said that the oncology crisis in our province is over and must be condemned as false.

ALSO READ : OPINION: ‘KZN’s oncology crisis continues’

MEC Dhlomo’s ongoing attempts to mislead the public – through the dissemination of information that provides false hope – are nothing more than a pathetic political stunt.  Yet, despite his obvious failings as an MEC, KZN Premier Willies Mchunu and the ANC continue to protect him.

The DA again calls on the premier to act in the interests of the millions of KZN citizens and fire MEC Dhlomo. Until this happens, our province’s healthcare system will remain on its knees.

DR IMRAN KEEKA, MPL
DA KZN Spokesperson on Health

 

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