The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) on Friday said it wanted to know from the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) department of health when the Addington Hospital cancer treatment machines, which were allowed to fall into disrepair, will become operational.
The department and radiation oncology treatments and software maker Varian Medical Systems have entered an agreement to restart two of the province’s cancer radiotherapy machines.
In a statement on Wednesday, the department said it had cemented the agreement after KwaZulu-Natal health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo had a meeting with Jean-Luc Devleeschauwer, the president of Varian’s Oncology Systems business in Europe, the Middle East, India and Africa.
However, details of the agreement were scant. The department did not say when the machines would become operational.
“The public, in particular cancer patients who have been most affected by this debacle, need to know what the timeframe is for treatment to be restored,” said Ncamisile Nkwanyana, the IFP province’s spokesperson on health.
“Patients have been suffered for a long time, but the MEC has again failed to give assurances about when these machines will become operational in order to help those who are in desperate need of treatment.”
The cancer treatment machines located at Greys Hospital, Addington Hospital and Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital fell into disrepair resulting in a complaint being made to the South African Human Rights Commission.
A probe by the commission found that the health department had infringed on the rights of patients by failing to fix the cancer treatment machines.
“The MEC must provide more details about this deal especially about the financial implications. All details about this deal must be made public. Just to say a deal has been reached between the two parties it is not enough because there has been an outcry about the failure by this MEC to solve the oncology issue in KZN,” Nkwanyana said.
“We need to know how much the deal will cost the taxpayer and if the department has the necessary funds in its budget to meet such costs. We also need to know the status of other contracts that the department had in place to service the machines.”
The IFP also demanded the employment of more oncologists and urologists.