Cancer patients' lives at risk in state bungle
Anthony Naledi, 46, who has colon cancer, clutches his stomach in pain and collapses on the pavement outside Johannesburg's Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital.
He tries to talk about the delays he has faced in getting treatment, instead he grimaces and struggles to sit up.
So his half-brother, Khese Ramotale, steps in to speak for him.
Ramotale said Naledi was diagnosed with colon cancer in September and started treatment in March at Charlotte Maxeke.
The two arrived on March 5 only to be told that the hospital had made a mistake with his appointment and that they should return on March 9.
They did so, at 7am.
Ramotale said: "We were waiting until at 2pm when they [finally] said the [radiation] machine was broken."
On March 12, they returned to be told the same thing.
CEO for non-governmental organisation Campaigning for Cancer Lauren Pretorius said Naledi faced multiple delays accessing treatment before the organisation stepped in to help him.
Naledi's story is not unique to cancer patients receiving treatment at Steve Biko Academic and Charlotte Maxeke hospitals in Gauteng, she said.
Missing files, broken equipment or medicine shortages continue to put cancer patients' lives at risk by delaying treatment.
Chemotherapy machines at Steve Biko Hospital broke down early this year and for a few months last year, delaying treatment of hundreds of cancer patients.
Campaigning for Cancer has written 14 letters to Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi demanding treatment for patients in the last year. When the ministry receives a letter of request, the patients get the treatment said Pretorius.
But when Naledi arrived at Charlotte Maxeke on June 4, his file was missing. He waited a whole month for a colonoscopy because of the delay and was given one yesterday.
Naledi's file has not been found and his brother seems unclear about the next step in his treatment.
The Cancer Association of SA advocacy manager Joel Perry said it was aware of delays facing cancer patients in Gauteng.
"We heard last week that brachytherapy machines [for treatment of prostate cancer] in Pretoria and Johannesburg are not functioning, which is affecting the patients who require this specialised treatment," he said.
Gauteng department of health spokesman Simon Zwane said suppliers were waiting for parts from overseas before they could fix the machines.
Campaigning for Cancer's Dot Webb called on cancer patients in Gauteng facing delays to contact the organisation on 0861275699 so they can help improve the situation.