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20 June 2017


The Health and Other Service Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (Hospersa) welcomes the report by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) on the provision of Oncology services in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). The commission found that the Department of Health (DoH) has violated the rights of cancer patients in KZN.  The Union has repeatedly called for the resignation of the Health Member of the Executive Council (MEC) and is of the view that this report vindicates its call.

On 15 June 2017, the SAHRC released its report on the provision of oncology service in KZN.  The Commission found that the DoH’s failure to evaluate and identify the need for functional equipment, failure to procure and maintain functional equipment, failure to recruit and retain suitably qualified staff as well as failure to monitor and evaluate the health needs of oncology patients has resulted in the violation of oncology patients rights.

“Hospersa welcomes this report as it confirms what we have been saying all along.  The DoH, both nationally and provincially, has failed to take reasonable measures to provide cancer patients with acceptable health care services in the KZN province,” said Hospersa General Secretary Noel Desfontaines.

The SAHRC recommended that steps be taken to repair and monitor all the health technology machines including the Computer Tomography (CT) scanners and the radiotherapy machines regardless of contractual disputes.  The Commission also ordered the adoption of a management plan to deal with the backlog as well as the adoption of an interim referral management plan to facilitate the referral of patients to private service providers for screening, diagnostic and treatment of cancer.  The commission has requested the DoH to provide a list of cancer patients who have passed away while waiting for treatment at Addington and at IALC hospitals.

 “We applaud the SAHRC for their intervention and thank them on behalf of cancer patients in KZN,” said Desfontaines.  “We trust that the DoH will acknowledge their failure and act promptly on the recommendations made by the Commission,” added Desfontaines.

“Hospersa has been vocal about the cancer treatment crisis in KZN since 2009 when the DoH was caught up in a multi-million rand corruption scandal involving the maintenance contract of radiography machines at Addington Hospital,” argued Desfontaines.  “In July 2014, we addressed a letter to the National Minister of Health demanding a health task team to investigate the comprehensive breakdown in delivery of health care service to the people of KZN.  In that letter, we claimed that the conduct of the KZN Health MEC and the KZN Health Head of Department was inexcusable.  In June 2015, we handed a memorandum to the erstwhile Premier of KZN, highlighting the fact that the care of cancer patients in the province was compromised,” said Desfontaines.

This report not only confirms that the fundamental human rights of cancer patients had been violated as a result of the state of affairs of the oncology department in KZN.  It also vindicates our call for the KZN Health MEC to resign for failing in his duties to adequately address the crisis since 2009,” concluded Desfontaines.



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For interviews please contact Hospersa General Secretary Noel Desfontaines – 083-321-4427.

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