DA welcomes tabling of SAHRC report into KZN oncology crisis before Parliament

The South African Human Rights Commission’s (SAHRC) damning report containing findings on the state of health services in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) has been tabled in Parliament for the Portfolio Committee on Health to scrutinise. The DA will do everything possible during this process to ensure that justice is served for the gross failures which this report exposes.

In 2016, my colleague, Dr Imran Keeka MPL , the DA KZN Spokesperson on Health, lodged a formal complaint with the SAHRC based on allegations that the KZN Health Department was violating the rights of cancer patients, after it came to light that cancer patients did not have access to proper healthcare services; including severe shortages of staff and a lack of functional health technology machines for screening, diagnosing and treating cancer at KZN hospitals.

The lack of services to cancer patients in the province has potentially resulted in the deaths of no less than 300 cancer patients. The report notes that the “Department advised that the average waiting period for a patient to be seen by an oncologist is five months whereas those waiting to receive radiotherapy usually wait 8 months”. This is akin to a death sentence.

Health officials were also found to “have violated the rights of the patients with cancer at the Addington and IALC Hospitals to have access to health care services as a result of their failure to comply with applicable norms and standards set out in legislation and policies”.

Moreover, the SAHRC report found that there was a failure to:

  • evaluate and identify the need for functional equipment;
  • procure, maintain and put in place adequate functional equipment;
  • provide access to adequate oncology services also violate the rights to human dignity and life of the affected patients; and
  •  monitor and evaluate the health needs of oncology patients in the province.

The DA will now scrutinise this report in order to ensure that all those who are responsible for the KwaZulu-Natal oncology crisis is held to account. Their failures were a violation of the rights to human dignity and life of the affected patients.

To date, there has been very little justice for those who lost their lives as a result of the gross negligence of local health officials – despite the binding recommendations in the SAHRC report, and patients living with cancer in KZN continue to face an uncertain treatment future.

It is now up to Parliament to perform in its mandate and hold the MEC, Provincial Health Department and the National Health Department accountable for their utter failure.

The DA will not rest until SAHRC’s recommendations are fully implemented.

Tomorrow, Dr Keeka and I will conduct an oversight visit to the affected Hospitals in KwaZulu-Natal.

Details of the visit are as follows:

Date: Monday, 7 July 2017
Time: 10:00
Venue: Addington Hospital, later proceeding to the Inkosi Abert Luthuli Central Hospital at 12:30.

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