Nine machines used for treating cervical cancer were broken and five others kept breaking down, DA Gauteng health spokesman Jack Bloom said earlier this week.
Apparently the service provider, Siemens, was refusing to service the machines because it had not been paid by Phambili Hospital Products, which is the intermediary company which has a contract with the department.
"The fault appears to lie with Phambili, because the department claims that it has paid the company," Bloom said, pleading for a speedy resolution to this dispute, as it was hindering patients' chances of survival.
Medical treatment a human right
Linda Greeff, director for the cancer advocacy group, People Living With Cancer, accused the management of the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital of not prioritising cancer care, and said they were effectively not aware of the impact this administrative procedures was having on the treatment outcome of cancer patients.
“It is imperative that treatment happens promptly and according to scheduled times,” said Greeff. “Treatment that is not completed compromises the outcome of these patient and means they are put at risk of the cancer spreading and getting worse.”
Cervical cancer is a curable disease if treated early. “Good effective medical treatment is a human right,” added Greeff.
Machines for cancer treatment also broke down earlier this year because Siemens weren’t paid to carry out the necessary maintenance.
Bloom said the DA was proposing that the department terminate its contract with Phambili to cut costs. "I am deeply suspicious as to why there is an intermediary company at all, instead of a direct contract with Siemens," he said.
"We should not have to pay higher costs through an intermediary company that does not deliver, and appears to be there merely because of misdirected empowerment requirements."
The Gauteng health department acknowledged there was a problem with the hospital's equipment. Spokesman Simon Zwane said the department was aware that the machines were functioning at 70 percent capacity.
He said the department had been speaking to the two companies and he hoped a resolution would soon be found.
Sources: DA, People Living With Cancer, Sapa