Category Archives: News & Events

NHI Bill Will NOT Fix SA Health Dept Problems!!

It seems that the underlying assumption of the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill, which seeks to force the public and private health systems into a hasty marriage, is that throwing money at the current Health Department Crisis will resolve all problems.

In actual fact, nothing could be further from the truth, and in retrospect, the NHI could cause even MORE problems as Key Medical Personnel such as doctors, anaesthesiologists, etc. are vulnerable to leave South Africa should the Bill be passed.

One problem is that the NHI Bill centralises too much power in the hands of the health minister and does not clarify how the scheme will be governed. The current problems that the Health Sector is facing is due to a lack of governance which has led to poor management of every aspect of public health – finances, human resources, procurement and maintenance – this one of the biggest weaknesses of the sector.

More money in the system will not remedy this. It will simply provide incompetent and corrupt managers with bigger budgets to burn.

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Brickbats & Bouquets for NHI and Medical Schemes Bills

brain drainA medical brain drain could be a consequence of the Medical Schemes Amendment Bill and the National Health Insurance Bill gazetted last week, says a Sunday Times report.

Experts believe many doctors would reject the planned charging cap and some warned that the changes would drive doctors to emigrate, leaving the health sector worse off.

But there was guarded support, too, for the concept, if not the detail. The Board of Healthcare Funders of Southern Africa expressed its support of the NHI, but said it would “continue to engage the minister around a practical and judicious approach to the NHI”.

The legislation was gazetted last week for comment by South African Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi.

Under the NHI Bill, the health insurance fund would be the biggest purchaser of health services in South Africa and consumers would have to contribute to it. The Bill proposes price controls in the private sector: “The fund may withdraw the accreditation of a service provider if the service provider . . . fails to adhere to the national pricing regimen for services delivered.”

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WHO Commission Criticised Over Sugar Taxes in New Report

The World Health Organisation (WHO) Independent High-Level Commission on NCDs’ new report, Time to Deliver, called for urgent action against chronic diseases and mental disorders, the globe’s leading cause of death and ill-health, but failed to include a recommendation on taxing sugary beverages.

Sugar and in particular sugar sweetened beverages are “leading drivers of the obesity epidemic”, said chief executive officer of the global advocacy group the NCD Alliance Katie Dain.

Obesity significantly raises the risk of developing many non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and, said Dain, alone, “is estimated to claim at least four million lives each year”.

The report on NCDs, which are chronic non-infectious conditions including cancer, diabetes and mental disorders, aims to galvanise action to stem the death and disease-toll caused by the rise in these diseases. The WHO Independent High-level Commission on NCDs, which produced the report, was convened in 2017 to advise WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on the action needed to accelerate progress in the fight against NCDs.

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Jose Bates YOU are our Hero

The Comrades Marathon, aka The Ultimate Human Race, is an ultramarathon of approximately 89 km (approx. 55 miles) which is run annually in the KwaZulu-Natal Province of South Africa between the cities of Durban and Pietermaritzburg. It is the world’s largest and oldest ultramarathon race. The direction of the race alternates each year between the “up” run (87 km) starting from Durban and the “down” run (now 90.184 km) starting from Pietermaritzburg.

The race was the idea of World War I veteran Vic Clapham, to commemorate the South African soldiers killed during the war. Clapham, who had endured a 2,700-kilometre route march through sweltering German East Africa, wanted the memorial to be a unique test of the physical endurance of the entrants. The constitution of the race states that one of its primary aims is to “celebrate mankind’s spirit over adversity”.

The spirit of the Comrades Marathon is said to be embodied by attributes of camaraderie, selflessness, dedication, perseverance, and ubuntu, and this is borne out every year by those who run, those who support and those who cheer!

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Thank You “Vlytige Hande”

Once again our wonderful ladies from Klaradyn Retirement Village in Brackenfell, who tirelessly work together in a group called “Vlytige Hande” which loosely translates as “Diligent Hands” or “Industrious Hands” spent their time knitting and crocheting for various schools and organisations in the Brackenfell area.

Although the Little Fighters Cancer Trust is not situated in the area, we do work with Little Fighters and their Families at Tygerberg Hospital, so are also always included in the beneficiaries.

On Friday I spent a lovely time with all the ladies over a cup of coffee and scones, having a few good laughs, listening to all their stories and meeting some of the representatives from other organisations also there to collect goodies.

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Little Miss & Mr Winelands 2018

On Saturday night Lizelma and I were privileged to attend the Little Miss & Mr Winelands 2018 Competition as the Little Fighters Cancer Trust was the beneficiary on the night, and what a wonderful, sparkling, professional, fun evening it was.

Young ladies and gentlemen from all over the Winelands took part and strutted their stuff on the stage – we were just very pleased that we were not asked to be judges as they had an enormous task ahead of them – but they acquitted themselves very well.

It was such fun to watch the little ones, the young ladies were all decked out in their finest gowns and the gentlemen were decked out in their fines too, bow ties and all [ Lizelma wanted to take one or two home with her…. 😉 ]

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NO Relief for Cancer Patients @ KZN Hospitals

Oncology patients still lack access to adequate oncology services in KwaZulu-Natal, despite assertions by Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, that six machines would function in the province by January 2018.

This problem is not a new one – the problems with Oncological services in KZN hospitals can be traced back at least as far as 2013 when  the province’s state hospitals first started experiencing backlogs in the treatment of cancer patients.

Patients diagnosed with cancer had complained of having to wait for far too long for treatment due to the lack of working radiology machines and CT scanners. Problems with the machines started in January 2013 when the Department of Health cancelled a contract with a service provider.

At the time, Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo said that part of the reason for the backlog in the cancer treatment is the high volume of patients requiring the service, which leads to machines breaking down frequently,and that the province was dealing with a larger pool of patients as it has to cater for people coming from Swaziland and Eastern Cape as well.

When these machines break, we have no luxury of time to repair them. Repairing a machine of that magnitude is not like going down the street and getting a pin there,” he said.

Dhlomo said some of the parts had to be imported from abroad, which led to logistical delays, and also, lack of staff training also contributed to machines breaking down frequently. He did not elaborate on why staff were inadequately trained to operate the machines.

Although Dhlomo admitted the shortcomings in the programme, he said the backlog had been “sensationalised”.

Not all patients who have cancer, must necessarily get radiotherapyThis story of saying ‘there is not enough machines, I am going to die’ is a fallacy. Patients can still do well under chemotherapy,” he said.

In December 2017, Dr Sifiso Mtshali, head of the department of health, resigned after being suspended by KwaZulu-Natal premier Willies Mchunu, pending an investigation into the irregular and illegal repair of oncology machines at the Addington Hospital in Durban.

In a statement, Mchunu said he had been in ongoing consultations with the provincial executive, including Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo and Finance MEC Belinda Scott.

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Roller Hockey Tournament: LFCT Fundraiser – Please Support

The Roller Hockey Crowd are gonna be rocking it at a Roller Hockey Tournament in Johannesburg this Saturday, 25 November 2017,  in support of the work done by the Little Fighters Cancer Trust.

Each member of each team will be donating cash to participate in the Fundraising Drive Tournament, and they will be playing in honour of all of our Little Fighters. All proceeds will be donated to LFCT

It would be AWESOME to have some of our Little Fighter supporters there to support the teams that are doing this for the Little Fighters.

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A Gratitude Post

With our chief cook & bottlewasher, Programme Manager Mandie Erasmus laid up ill in bed (Get Well Soon, Mandie), I was asked to attend an event in honour of the Little Fighters Cancer Trust on Sunday evening, and I am very glad I was.

Although, typical to Cape Town fashion, unfortunately many people who had bought tickets to the fundraising event did not pitch (or perhaps they were blown away by the 60kph winds😜😜), it was a lovely event.

It was such a pleasure to meet and chat to Gilmore and Shaakirah  from Atlantic Seaboard Views, who organised the fundraising event and published a wonderful article on the Little Fighters Cancer Trust  in their  a free quarterly, high quality coffee table lifestyle magazine, which is distributed to 20 000 households and businesses along the upmarket Western Cape Atlantic Seaboard – what great exposure for our little charity!

You can read the article online HERE  – in the Spring 2017 issue (Pg 23) – as well as Little Fighter Reece Barend’s story directly thereafter (see poem written by his mother at the end of this post).

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Stealing Pain Medication from Cancer Patients the Lowest of the Low

Johnathan William Click, the lead pharmacy technician for Birmingham’s ContinuumRx, has been accused of stealing opioid medication from IV bags intended for cancer patients experiencing excruciating pain. Prosecutors have accused Click of siphoning morphine and hydromorphone from the vials and replacing the drugs with saline or sterile water.

For nearly two months, a patient at New Beacon Hospice in Birmingham, Alabama, would push the button on her intravenous pump, hoping for a dose of medication to ease the excruciating pain caused by her liver cancer, but never got the relief she was seeking.

A nurse made a series of worried calls to ContinuumRx, the pharmacy that supplied IV bags to the hospice. “Something was not right,” the nurse told the pharmacy. “Keep pushing the button”, the pharmacy instructed, before swapping out the patient’s bag at least twice.

Prosecutors say Johnathon William Click, the leader pharmacy technician for ContiuumRx, spent nearly two years stealing opioid drugs that were supposed to go into IV bags for patients in palliative care. He is accused of siphoning morphine and hydromorphone from the pharmacy’s vials and replacing the liquid he took with saline or sterile water.

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