Mpumalanga gets its own oncology unit

Mpumalanga MEC for health Sasekani Manzini, right, in the oncology ward at Rob Ferreira hospital, Mbombela./Supplied
Mpumalanga MEC for health Sasekani Manzini, right, in the oncology ward at Rob Ferreira hospital, Mbombela./Supplied

Cancer patients will no longer have to wait long or be sent outside Mpumalanga for treatment.

The Mpumalanga department of health yesterday launched the first oncology centre at the Rob Ferreira Hospital in Mbombela.

The province was sending its cancer patients outside the province, mainly to Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria.

Working with the University of the Witwatersrand to hone specialists, MEC Sasekani Manzini said with only one hospital having oncology services, the province is going to build another one at the Witbank Hospital.

"It is of utmost importance for the province to start establishing sub-specialty services in the province. We need to minimise dependency on Gauteng as this further retards the province's ability to carry its mandate to provide comprehensive services to the people of Mpumalanga.

"Currently, patients who need oncology services are referred to various hospitals outside the province at great expense and inconvenience to the patient and families," said Manzini.

"Our plan is to provide more of this service to other hospitals. A fully equipped oncology unit will be incorporated in the Business Case for the New Tertiary Hospital in Witbank, which will be able to provide a full package of oncology services including in-house radiation therapy for the province."

The new centre in Mbombela has 12 beds and will cater for children as well.

One patient who asked not to be named told Sowetan she was happy the service is now found in the province.

"When I first found out that I have cancer, I was sent to Gauteng. I spent a lot of money while there but I'm happy now that I will just take a taxi for check ups," said the patient.

Dr Nokwanda Zuma, an oncologist at Rob Ferreira Hospital, said they were operational and already receiving patients.

"The Laminar Flow Machine, which is used for mixing the chemotherapy drugs, was serviced in May 2019. A number of medical equipment for the oncology unit have been procured and some delivered in July 2019 and a few more awaiting delivery," said Zuma.

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