Tuesday 28 May

26 April 2024, Johannesburg – SECTION27, Cancer Alliance and Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), and patients waiting for cancer treatment invite the media to a march to the Gauteng Department of Health (GDoH), on 30 April 2024. We are demanding that the GDoH spend the R784 million set aside by the Gauteng Treasury in March 2023 to outsource radiation oncology services for over 3 000 patients who are currently on the backlog list. Many of the patients on the backlog list have been waiting for these services for years, a delay that the GDoH has attributed to a lack of funding and resources. Tragically, some patients have passed on while waiting for the department to act. Despite the availability of funds made available by Gauteng Treasury in 2023, the GDoH has still failed to provide life-saving treatment to cancer patients for over a year. 

We demand immediate action from GDoH to provide radiation oncology services in the province by outsourcing the services as per its undertaking, while it waits for procured equipment. We further demand that GDoH provide us with an update regarding the progress made on the tender under consideration, referenced in a press statement released on 1 February 2024. We have written an open letter to GDoH making our demands clear. 

The radiation oncology crisis in Gauteng was first brought to the attention of GDoH as far back as 2020 by Cancer Alliance and TAC. In November 2021, following nearly two years of correspondence and no response from the Health Department on this issue, Cancer Alliance and the Treatment Action Campaign held a protest and delivered a memorandum of demands.  The three organisations also highlighted the specific problems related to radiation oncology at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital to GDoH. In 2022, Cancer Alliance, using its own resources and funds, compiled a list of over 3000 patients awaiting radiation oncology treatment including those suffering from prostate, breast, cervical, and colon cancer.

The cancer crisis in Gauteng is driven by severe shortages of both operational radiation oncology equipment and staff within the public sector. This is particularly evident at Steve Biko Academic Hospital and Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital (CMJAH), with CMJAH experiencing the most critical shortages. In 2020, CMJAH had seven operational radiation oncology machines, but today it operates with only two while serving approximately 2,000 new patients annually. To help relieve the funding pressure, we successfully negotiated with Gauteng Treasury to allocate funding to GDoH to procure equipment and outsource care for those on the backlog list. Despite this resource allocation, patients on the backlog list are not receiving the care they need.

We urge GDoH to urgently utilise the allocated R784 million for outsourcing radiology oncology services to save thousands of lives. The longer these funds remain unused, the more cancer patients lose their lives. GDoH must fulfil its constitutional duty of providing access to cancer treatment for these patients.  

Cancer patients, along with hundreds of activists, will be marching on April 30, 2024, to present a memorandum of demands to the Gauteng Department of Health.  A representative from Gauteng Treasury is expected to be in attendance on the day.

March details:  

Start point: Library Gardens (Opposite Gauteng Legislature) 

End point: Gauteng DoH: 75 Fox Str. Marshalltown 45 Commissioner Str 

The European Union funding supports SECTION27 and the Centre for Child Law’s work in enhancing accountability in health and education in South Africa.   

For Media enquiries contact / RSVP: 

SECTION27: Pearl Nicodemus | nicodemus@section27.org.za | 082 298 2636 

Cancer Alliance:  Salome Meyer | salomefaan@gmail.com | 079 483 3175

TAC:  Ngqabutho Mpofu | ngqabutho.mpofu@tac.org.za  | 072 225 9675


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