KZN Cancer Crisis: Clock is ticking for Health MEC
27 June 2017
On Friday 30 June, the KZN Health MEC, Sibongiseni Dhlomo, must report to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) and provide a plan to overcome the current oncology crisis in the province.
This report back session by the MEC is one of the binding recommendations in the Commissions scathing report that found MEC Dhlomo and his department guilty of failing to provide proper treatment for cancer patients at two of the province’s biggest public hospitals.
The SAHRC report also contains the following binding recommendations:
- The MEC and Health Department are required to immediately take steps to repair and monitor all the health technology machines;
- A management plan must be adopted to deal with the backlog through, amongst others, entering into interim Public Private Partnership arrangements with private oncologists, medical officers, radiotherapists and oncology nurses; and
- An interim referral management plan must be developed to facilitate the referral of patients to private service providers for screening, diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
Unfortunately, to date there is no indication that MEC Dhlomo will meet any of these recommendations.
During a sitting of the KZN legislature last week the MEC made a feeble attempt to reassure members of the provincial parliament and the public that matters are being dealt with. Yet, apart from an announcement about greater involvement from the private sector – one of the recommendations put forward by the DA - he failed to say anything new.
The MEC has shown repeatedly that he is incapable of producing a plan to restore proper treatment for cancer sufferers. If he was, he would have done so a long time ago rather than allowing matters to reach the stage where he is now being compelled by the SAHRC to do something.
He also continues to feign ignorance of the ongoing investigation by the SAHRC. This is inexcusable and the DA can confirm that we have had discussions with him repeatedly in this regard.
Meanwhile, in a radio interview held yesterday, the MEC said he was meeting with the SAHRC voluntarily while the truth is that he is compelled by law to do so. This is nothing short of disingenuous.
Today I call on the SAHRC not to tolerate any delays or excuses from the MEC and his department. This is the usual modus operandi which, over the years, has potentially led to the deaths of hundreds of patients under his watch.
The MEC has violated the rights of cancer patients in our province and the DA firmly believes that, in failing to dismiss him, Premier Willies Mchunu is complicit.
The DA is continuing to explore the possibility of legal action against the MEC and officials of the department implicated in the report.
The DA will not allow those responsible for this crisis to not be held accountable.
Issued by Imran Keeka, DA KZN Spokesperson on Health, 27 June 2017