Gauteng cancer crisis will cost more lives than Esidimeni

The lives of more than 2000 cancer patients are at risk as they face a long wait for treatment in Gauteng public hospitals.

This cancer crisis was brought to the attention of Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi in November last year by the Cancer Alliance and Treatment Action Campaign, but the Gauteng Health Department has yet to respond with effective action.

I am most concerned at the 72 vacancies at the Radiation department of the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital, which is also plagued by broken and outdated machinery. They urgently need the following machinery to cut the alarming treatment backlogs:

  • 2 small Linac machines
  • 2 HDR Brachy machines
  • 1 MRI Linac machine

More than 1000 men with prostate cancer are on the list for radiation treatment, but many of them will suffer terribly and die because they have to wait as long as five years.

There are also about 500 women with breast cancer waiting for more than a year for radiotherapy.

Another 300 women wait between 4 to 6 months for cervical cancer treatment.

If nothing is done urgently, there will be far more cancer deaths that could have been avoided than the 144 mental patients who died in the Life Esidimeni tragedy.

As the tender processes for new radiation machines are extremely slow, the best solution is a private/public partnership to save lives by drastically cutting the treatment backlogs.

There are already discussions with the Netcare Hospital Group to assist with treatment of public cancer patients, but Treasury has not made funds available to take it further.

The Democratic Alliance calls on the Gauteng Provincial Government to urgently adopt solutions to save the lives of hundreds of cancer patients