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Updated 10 September 2019

Hope for Mpumalanga cancer patients with opening of first oncology unit

Many cancer patients in the province had no choice but to travel long distance to Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Gauteng, about 300km away, to receive oncology treatment. The end is now.

The MEC for Health in Mpumalanga Sasekani Manzini has  officially launched the oncology centre at Rob Ferreira Hospital in Mbombela this week.

Manzini says the centre is the first of its kind in Mpumalanga. “We are excited that we have finally managed to render the services. The hospital has already seen about 90 patients [since] August 12 and more will be assisted, but today is the official launch of the oncology unit.” 

She adds: “However, as a department we are aware that when it comes to a new service there will be lots of challenges, but… we will take those challenges as a lesson and [a] way to improve where we are lacking. The department is happy to announce that all patients who are diagnosed with cancer at local facilities will no longer travel to Steve Biko Academic Hospital for treatment but… be transferred to the Rob Ferreira Hospital for treatment.”

Too late for some 

But for the Shabangu family, the oncology centre comes with little relief. Their mother passed away on August 23 from breast cancer. Mandla Shabangu says: “Even though it’s too late for my mother, but because cancer is hereditary, I trust it’s not late for my three sisters and other women in the province.”

He adds: “However, I pray that from now [on] there will be no family in the province that will ever bury their love ones because of cancer. I am happy that all cancer patients will finally be treated at home.”

A reason to celebrate 

“Today is a beautiful day for the entire province and especially the women living with HIV who attended  the Positive Women Network (PWN) National Summit in Johannesburg in July. [Attendees shared that they are concerned about] cervical and breast cancer,” says Thandi Maluka, Director of PWN, speaking to OurHealth. 

“To Mpumalanga PWN, this new means one challenge has been resolved. However, our work won’t stop because one province has made a change, but we will love to see other provinces doing the same and PWN is willing to work with the Department of Health by educating and mobilising women to do PAP smear screenings, especially for young women and women living with HIV. 

"And as PWN we urge the Mpumalanga Department of Health to make sure that all screening equipment is well taken care of and serviced,” says Maluka. “We [hope] to expand the services to other hospitals, but that is still in a planning stage,” says Manzini.

– Health-e News 

Image credit: iStock

 
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