Advocacy Toolkit #7
– RE-ENGINEER THE HEALTH SYSTEM
There is little equity of care for cancer patients in South Africa, the first obvious sign being the absence of treatment centres for each of the nine provinces. The map below shows the actual and recommended numbers of radiation oncology facilities (external beam radiotherapy machines) in the various provinces as at March 2017. This lack of proximate affordable, effective and quality cancer services, which enables early diagnosis, appropriate treatment and care, means patients in lower-resourced areas will often suffer and die unnecessarily.
WHAT WE NEED
- Culturally sensitive, linguistically appropriate local awareness and education programmes to teach the value of prevention and early detection of cancer.
- Access for adults and children to accurate screening and early detection of cancer at all primary healthcare facilities.
- Timeous diagnosis at functional diagnostic centres, and efficient referral to further necessary care services.
- Equitable, quality treatment, with the associated provision of equipment and trained human resources for effective, patient-centred care.
- Appropriately trained cancer surgeons to ensure prompt surgical interventions, as well as dedicated theatre availability.
- Access to affordable diagnostic techniques, and essential and other supportive cancer medication, to offer equitable and safe cancer treatment for all. This will avert treatment interruption, which seriously compromises treatment outcomes.
- Sufficient fully-functional and fully-staffed radiation treatment facilities, especially to address the highest-incidence cancers – breast, cervical, prostate, colorectal, and lung cancer.
- Acceptable levels of psycho-social care at all treatment centres, particularly for patients from rural areas and for those who are financially disadvantaged.
- Palliative care services for cancer survivors and their families, especially in the currently critically under-resourced rural areas. This is a vital service that should be available from diagnosis to end-of-life.
- A multi-faceted approach to care, spanning the entire cancer continuum.
- Properly-trained health professionals across the board to implement focused provincial cancer plans.