PARLIAMENT, September 6 – Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi on Wednesday informed MPs that his department will receive the results of a forensic audit into the reasons two radiotherapy machines at Addington Hospital in KwaZulu-Natal broke down and were never fixed, leading to hundreds if not thousands of deaths of cancer patients.
“I’m happy to announce that the DDG [deputy director general] of corporate at national has just received an invitation from KwaZulu-Natal treasury. They are going to release the results of this forensic audit, what happened that led to the collapse of the equipment in terms of maintenance,” Motosoaledi said while briefing Parliament’s portfolio committee on health.
The forensic audit was instituted after the SA Human Rights Commission made several findings, including that MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo and his department “violated the rights of oncology patients at the Addington and Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospitals to have access to health care services as a result of their failure to apply with applicable norms and standards set out in legislation and policies”.
The SAHRC demanded that, among others, the machines be immediately repaired.
Dhlomo told the committee that Varian, the manufacturers of the machines have since done an assessment, and given his department two options.
The first option was repair and upgrade software on both machines and sign a five year service maintenance contract. However, another option was agreed upon – that one of the machines, which required less work, be repaired and that another machine with better technology be procured.
“To procure a new machine would be more cost-effective,” said Dhlomo.
Tecmed, who was the sole agent for Varian at the time, previously told African News Agency (ANA) that despite the company supplying a solicited quote in July 2015, for the repair and re-commissioning of the Addington machines, it had “not heard anything further from the department of health”.
The tender was instead awarded to KZN Oncology Inc, which was only legally registered as a company a month later. Despite being paid R5.6 million, KZN Oncology failed to maintain the machines, which fell into disrepair.
This led to Addington’s cancer patients having to use Albert Luthuli Central Hospital, which increased the waiting time for treatment excessively.
– African News Agency (ANA)