“The KZN Department of Health notes with concern an ongoing campaign to discredit its numerous efforts which have in fact resulted in a significant reduction in waiting times and a smaller backlog for patients who need treatment for advanced cancer (oncology),” the department said in a statement on Sunday.

“The department notes that there seems to be a deliberate and relentless campaign by certain members of the media to ignore the tremendous progress that has been made to expand cancer treatment and oncology services,” it said.

The “facts” were that “from 6 August–3 December 2018, 205 patients are booked into the radiotherapy clinic at Addington Hospital (sic)”. At the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital (IALCH), the number was 153, while at Grey’s Hospital the number was 198.

“Reports of a backlog of 8 000 cancer patients in KZN are therefore untrue. Interventions by the KZN Department of Health have ensured that there are seven fully functional linear accelerators in the province; higher than any other province in the country,” the department said.

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Three of these were at IALCH, two at Addington Hospital, and one at Grey’s Hospital, where there were “no significant waiting times for treatment”. The seventh machine was used as part of a public-private partnership at Queen Nandi and Ngwelezana Hospital complex. Currently there was “no (extended) waiting time to see an oncologist at this complex”.

The department had contracted three oncologists from the Wits Health Consortium based at IALCH and had two oncologists at Addington Hospital.

“As a result of these measures, the waiting period to see an oncologist for the first time at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital (IALCH) and Addington Hospital (ADH) ranges from three to four weeks, to eight weeks, depending on the type of required service, while the total number of new patients that are booked is 1 036. Before these interventions the waiting time was between five to six months. There are no waiting times for children who need to see an oncologist,” the department said.

– African News Agency