KZN health department has violated human rights: SAHRC

16 June 2017 - 15:59 By Timeslive
File photo of a saline solution.
File photo of a saline solution.
Image: Gallo Images/ IStock

The SA Human Rights Commission has found that the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health violated the rights of oncology patients when it failed to provide relevant services in the province’s two major hospitals.

The SA Human Rights Commission has found that the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health violated the rights of oncology patients when it failed to provide relevant services in the province’s two major hospitals.

In a statement released on Thursday‚ the commission said it received a complaint raising a number of challenges regarding the provision of health care services to oncology patients in the KZN Province.

The complainant alleged that there were insufficient radiotherapy treatment devices and facilities in the province of KwaZulu-Natal which had a negative impact on the treatment of patients living with cancer in the province. The radiotherapy machines at Addington Hospital were also not working.

The complaint was made in February 2016 and the investigations were completed this year. The complainant added that there was a lack of qualified staff such as oncologists and that equipment such as scanners‚ which were not always working optimally‚ resulted in delays in the treatment of oncology patients for months.

The complainant advised the commission that the Department of Health in KwaZulu-Natal was failing to provide oncology patients with adequate health care services. SAHRC investigated the complaint with the focus on the Addington Hospital‚ and Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital (IALC Hospital).

After engaging with staff‚ patients‚ and inspecting the hospitals‚ the commission also called on the Department of Health in the province and the MEC of Health‚ Sibongiseni Dhlomo‚ to respond to its provisional findings.

In its reply‚ the department said it was experiencing human resource constraints and did not have enough oncologists in the province.

But the commission was of the view that the department had not put in place “coherent plans that took into account the rights and experience of patients to maintain or improve the provision of specialised health services to patients in critical need”.

SAHRC also found that the rights of oncology patients at the Addington and IALC hospitals to have access to health care services had been violated.

The violations arose because of the Department and its hospitals’ failure to comply with applicable norms and standards set out in legislation and policies.

“Our law requires that steps be taken to maintain‚ promote or improve access to health care. The Commission found that given the period of time for which the situation had prevailed‚ together with the impact to affected patients‚ these standards had not been met‚” SAHRC said.

The commission issued recommendations to the hospitals and the MEC of health in the province to take immediate steps to repair and monitor all the health technology machines regardless of contractual disputes yet to be finalised through the courts.

It also called on the premier of the province to investigate whether Dhlomo had discharged his constitutional and statutory responsibilities for the provision of healthcare to cancer patients.

The respondents are required to report to the commission within ten days of receipt of the report into its investigation.

-TimesLIVE

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