KZN Health MEC must account to human rights body over oncology crisis

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The head of the KwaZulu-Natal Health Department, MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo, has been issued with a notice to appear before the South African Human Rights Commission over the “lack of meaningful progress” in dealing with the province’s oncology crisis, reports the Sunday Tribune.

Dhlomo and his department were singled out in a damning commission report last year as having “violated the rights of oncology patients at the Addington and Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospitals to have access to health-care services as a result of their failure to comply with norms and standards set out in legislation and policies”. The report – the result of a complaint laid by the Democratic Alliance (DA) in 2016 – also found that the measures the health department told the SAHRC it would put in place to end the crisis were “inadequate and unacceptable”.

The report came after news that Durban’s public oncology services had been stripped of practitioners, with doctors leaving because of unsatisfactory working conditions and lack of equipment. “Ten months later and after exchanges of correspondence and meetings with the KZN Health Department, the commission remains concerned at the lack of meaningful progress. The commission has noted the numerous reports that many cancer patients still lack access to timely and appropriate oncology health care and that some may have already died,” the commission said.

Dhlomo has been called to appear before the commission on 14 May. At the meeting, he will have to produce “certain information and documentation, as well as answer questions under oath posed to him to enable the commission to decide on what action to take to positively impact on this undesirable situation”, it said.

Dhlomo said he was aware of the request. “I did let them know that I will meet them. I am waiting for the SAHRC to confirm when this will be. The KZN Health Department has made good progress with regards to oncology challenges. We have regularly updated the commission on this progress,” he said.

 

The SAHRC said it had noticed continuing problems in the oncology sector in the province‚ despite it having issued the damning report 10 months ago, reports The Times. The investigation was initiated following a complaint by the DA’s provincial health spokesperson Dr Imran Keeka.

“Ten months later and after many exchanges of correspondence and meetings with the KZN provincial department of health‚ the commission remains concerned at the lack of meaningful progress. The commission has noted the numerous reports that many cancer patients still lack access to timely and appropriate oncology health care and that some may have already died‚” the SAHRC.

As a result the commission said it had issued Dhlomo a notice to appear before the commission “to produce certain information and documentation as well as answer questions under oath that will be posed to him to enable the commission to decide on what action to take in order to positively impact on this undesirable situation”.

Sunday Tribune report
The Times report


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