KZN cancer crises: A patient's story


Durban, 23 June 2017 - KZN Health Department set to receive millions to repair and purchase oncology equipment? following a damning report from the SAHRC. This is one patients account of her experiences.

DURBAN - Alice Sibiya was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2013.

The 41-year-old, who underwent chemotherapy at Inkosi Albert Luthuli hospital in 2015, claims the treatment ended without explanation.

The Inanda resident was then transferred to  Addington Hospital, where she says, she was told she no longer had cancer.

But Sibiya was instructed to see the oncologist every four months for check-ups.

She considers the whole ordeal a nightmare.

"When you get to the pharmacy, those painkillers that they've prescribed to you, you don't get (the medication). When you come another month, the pharmacist tears up the prescription and says it's not valid anymore. You understand? It hurt us," she says.

Sibiya, who’s been too ill to work, supports her family with her government grant.

She's one of hundreds of cancer patients in Kwa-Zulu-Natal, affected by a dire shortage of oncologists.

"It hurts us because most of the people who were receiving treatment with us at Albert Luthuli have died, because we're not receiving adequate treatment," she adds. "We as cancer patients are not taken care of."

Sibiya says she receives only pain medication after each visit to Addington hospital.

And she believes she still has cancer. "I think if we were getting the adequate treatment, if the government was stepping up to ensure that we have enough doctors, maybe I'd be alright".

The SA Medical Association, which has long lamented the state of KZN’s public healthcare system, is concerned cancer patients' care, will be further compromised.

WATCH: Motsoaledi: KZN cancer crises due to procurement, not lack of doctors

"By the time you get the necessary treatment, it's advanced," Mvuyisi Mzukwa, of the KZN Coastal Branch of SAMA, SAID. "In fact, when the oncologist attend to patients now, they'll have to review, start all over again. You know, so that they can determine whether the treatment is appropriate or not."

Meanwhile, the KwaZulu-Natal Health Department is set to receive millions from the provincial Treasury, to repair and purchase oncology equipment.

The Human Rights Commission has found health officials violated the rights of cancer  patients, at two major hospitals, by failing to provide adequate care.

Six cancer experts have left the public sector, citing unreasonable working conditions.

And several patients have died, as the KZN Health Department failed to get its house in order.

Some of the province's radiotherapy equipment has been broken since 2011.