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.
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 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 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 commission said.
Dhlomo has been called to appear before the commission on May 14. 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 yesterday 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 department of health has made good progress with regards to oncology challenges. We have regularly updated the commission on this progress,” he said.