KZN oncology crisis: MEC must be fired – DA KZN

Report states 'Dept of Health failed to take reasonable measures to progressively realise right to have access to healthcare services in province'

KZN oncology crisis: DA calls for MEC to be fired, and Legislature to urgently debate way forward

19 June 2017

THE Democratic Alliance urgently calls for a snap debate in the KZN Legislature about the shocking findings in the recent report by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) into the state of oncology services in the province, and to decide on an urgent plan of action to address this crisis.

We also call on Premier Willies Mchunu to fire the Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo for allowing the Department to deteriorate into such a disastrous state and allowing hundreds of cancer patients to be compromised.

The report, that came after the DA requested an investigation by the SAHRC in 2016, concluded that MEC Dhlomo and the provincial Health Department violated the rights of cancer patients to have access to treatment.

It contains the damning finding that “the Department of Health, both nationally and provincially, failed to take reasonable measures to progressively realise the right to have access to healthcare services in the KZN province”.

As in the case of the Life Esidimeni tragedy which resulted in the death of more than 100 mental health patients under the ANC government in Gauteng, this KZN crisis highlights the ANC-government’s failures and shows zero accountability or care on the part of the ANC. It proves its disdain for some of the most vulnerable South Africans – those who suffer from serious conditions and rely on the state for their care.

Until now, the Premier, the MEC as well as the National Health Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi have simply ignored the plight of thousands of cancer patients across the province as cancer treatment in KwaZulu-Natal’s health department all but ground to a halt. In a blatant example of how little the ANC cares for the most needy people in our society, there has been zero accountability from any of them.

In fact, the KZN Health Department and the MEC allowed cancer patients to die while waiting for treatment and did nothing to stop the impending crisis.

The MEC and his Department are now required to report to the Commission, within ten daysof receipt of the report into its investigation. We expect nothing but denials, obfuscation and more failures of accountability, as this is the pattern set in stone in the ANC government.

Yet, the DA’s uppermost concern right now is ensuring that oncology services in the province are restored. The DA calls for intervention steps to be taken as a matter of urgency, and we today recommend that the KZN Health Department urgently considers:

- A special committee must be established in KZN to oversee the findings of the Commission. The committee must include the Premier, the MEC and opposition spokespeople on Health. This committee will be responsible for implementing the following short-term solutions:

- Retired oncologists can be approached to consult for the state, for a necessary period, until the oncology crisis is resolved;
- Specialists in the private sector can be requested to locum in state hospitals and compensation for the difference in rates could be in the form of a tax rebate/discount;

- The Provincial Health Department can go into a partnership agreement with private practices, allowing the state to send patients to private practices where the state will pay at a negotiated rate; and

- The National Health Minister, Mr Motsoaledi, can exercise the right to fast track registration for foreign doctors in the Health Professions Act so that talented oncologists can be brought in from other countries urgently.

These measures will not be inexpensive, but for an ANC government that wastes hundreds of millions of rands, and lines its own pockets continuously, there must be personal sacrifices to end this crisis.

The DA reiterates: Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo must be fired! And we reiterate that the KZN Legislature must debate this damning report urgently.

According to our Constitution, every South African has the right to have access to health care service. It is a fundamental human right in our country. The DA will continue to fight for the human rights of all South Africans, especially those who are vulnerable and neglected to die because of the incompetence and indifference of the ANC government.

Issued by Imran Keeka, DA KZN Spokesperson on Health, 19 June 2017