Can­cer treat­ment re­sumes at Dur­ban hos­pi­tal

Hope for Ad­ding­ton pa­tients

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THE process of fully re­sum­ing on­col­ogy ser­vices at Ad­ding­ton Hos­pi­tal is al­most com­plete and re­cently qualified on­col­o­gist Dr Nok­wanda Zuma says she is look­ing for­ward to elim­i­nat­ing can­cer, one step at a time.

A rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the SA Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion (SAHRC) was present at a me­dia brief­ing hosted by the pro­vin­cial De­part­ment of Health at the hos­pi­tal yes­ter­day, along with Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, act­ing head of de­part­ment Dr Musa Gumede, deputy di­rec­tor-gen­eral at the na­tional De­part­ment of Health Dr An­ban Pil­lay, and Jean-Luc Devleeschauwer, pres­i­dent of Var­ian On­col­ogy Sys­tems busi­ness in Europe, the Mid­dle East, In­dia and Africa and the Com­mon­wealth of In­de­pen­dent States.

Last year, the com­mis­sion slammed the de­part­ment for the poor han­dling of the on­col­ogy cri­sis in pro­vin­cial hos­pi­tals. This was af­ter equip­ment for screening and treat­ing can­cer pa­tients was found to be bro­ken or non-ex­is­tent at two ma­jor Dur­ban pub­lic hos­pi­tals. The DA had raised con­cerns of hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions to the com­mis­sion in Fe­bru­ary 2016.

“We will con­tinue to mon­i­tor the progress of on­col­ogy ser­vices in KZN, but are very pleased with the de­vel­op­ments shared by the de­part­ment so far,” Tanuja Mun­noo, SAHRC pro­vin­cial man­ager, said yes- ter­day.

The re­paired lin­ear ac­cel­er­a­tor ma­chine at Ad­ding­ton has been work­ing since June 6 and a new one is ex­pected to start work­ing from early next month.

“All the pa­tients that have been wait­ing for ra­dio­ther­apy will be called back and newly di­ag­nosed pa­tients will also be at­tended to,” said Zuma.

She added that more pa­tients would be at­tended to when the sec­ond on­col­o­gist and over­all man­ager of the Dur­ban On­col­ogy Ser­vices, Dr Shona Bhadree, re­sumed du­ties next month as head of the clinical unit at Inkosi Al­bert Luthuli Cen­tral Hos­pi­tal.

Zuma said each ma­chine at Ad­ding­ton Hos­pi­tal would be able to ser­vice about 30 pa­tients a day.

Ac­cord­ing to her, six pa­tients were booked to start treat­ment this week.

Zuma said that re-ini­ti­at­ing ra­dio­ther­apy at Ad­ding­ton was a process and that once ev­ery­thing was in or­der, more pa­tients would be helped.

For the on­col­ogy de­part­ment to run ef­fi­ciently, Zuma added, she would ideally like to have at least five to six spe­cial­ists to work with.

“Once train­ing of on­col­o­gists re­sumes at Ad­ding­ton, it will be eas­ier to grow the de­part­ment in terms of staff.”

DA Health spokesper­son Dr Im­ran Keeka said the de­part­ment was mak­ing all these changes be­cause it was un­der pres­sure.

“I feel like the sit­u­a­tion is even worse than be­fore be­cause there were three on­col­o­gists and the wait­ing list was three to five months, but now there is only one on­col­o­gist and the wait­ing pe­riod is up to a year,” said Keeka.

He said peo­ple must not get lost in the eu­pho­ria of the re­open­ing of the on­col­ogy unit at Ad­ding­ton.

“Jus­tice must still be found for all the pa­tients who died wait­ing,” he said.

Devleeschauwer as­sured that the re­paired ma­chine had been re­stored and up­graded.

He said: “We have a main­te­nance con­tract that will en­sure that these ma­chines re­main in their best con­di­tion.”

PIC­TURE: BON­GANI MBATHA/AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY (ANA)

At a me­dia brief­ing yes­ter­day on the sta­tus of on­col­ogy ser­vices at Ad­ding­ton Hos­pi­tal are, from left, Dr Nok­wanda Zuma, JeanLuc Devleeschauwer and Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo.

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