There are 15 oncology machines worth about R40-million not being used at public hospitals, because there are no cancer doctors to operate them, Times Select reported. This was revealed by health minister Aaron Motsoaledi.
In an interview, Motsoaledi said one of the pilot programmes of the National Health Insurance (NHI) was to clear the oncology backlog, especially in KwaZulu-Natal.
KwaZulu-Natal has just one oncology specialist servicing about 1.3-million cancer patients.
The health department will use private doctors to use the machines in public hospitals, Motsoaledi reportedly said.
There are two machines in KwaZulu-Natal, four at Charlotte Maxeke, while the Groote Schuur and Tygerberg Hospitals in Cape Town have three machines each. There are five more machines at Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Johannesburg, he said.
No private hospital has more than one machine, because the returns on treatment are low, the minister said, and he called on private specialists to help the department use the machines and "help us clear the backlog".
With no permanent oncologist at its two state hospitals in Durban, the KwaZulu-Natal health department said in January that it would rope in doctors from India and Cuba to try to solve its cancer-treatment crisis, according to TimesLive.
A report by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) last year found that the KwaZulu-Natal health department had violated the rights of cancer patients to receive treatment through its lack of doctors.
In a statement in May, the DA said that in a reply to Parliamentary questions, it was revealed that at least 499 cancer patients had died waiting for treatment at two of KwaZulu-Natal's biggest hospitals during 2015 and 2016.