MyPE 23 May 2012. Article: Alan Straton
After extensive lobbying of local government the Aloe Igazi Haemotology unit was officially opened at a glamorous event on 9 May 2012.
The unit, a dream of Dr Neil Littleton and the Igazi foundation has now received a body blow to their cause to serve the residents of Eastern Cape as has been revealed by the Business Day today – No nurses for hospital’s new cancer unit who say; “A new, state-of-the-art haematology unit at the Port Elizabeth Provincial Hospital is standing idle because it cannot employ nurses.” in an article written by Tamar Kahn.
The opening of the unit was hailed as allowing the Eastern Cape to enter the stem cell age with the opening of the province’s first specialist haematology treatment unit.
“Stem cell treatment is the future of medicine. Pioneering work is being done on using stem cells to treat all types of disease,” says Dr Neil Littleton, head of Department of Clinical Haematology at the Provincial Hospital.
Littleton carried out the first haematological stem cell transplant in the Eastern Cape in May 2010 and stem cells are now separated out in the Eastern Cape by the South African National Blood Service (SANBS) in Port Elizabeth.
With the opening of the province’s first comprehensive haematology treatment unit, the number of transplants was expected to increase dramatically.
As patients need to be kept in strict isolation during the transplant process in order to protect them from infection, the new unit has six isolation wards with DSTV and Internet access in order to help patients keep in touch with the outside world while isolated for a month or more.
Other facilities in the R20-million facility on the seventh floor of the M Block in the Port Elizabeth Provincial Hospital include a general male ward, a general female ward, a day ward, a chemotherapy room, and doctors’ offices.
The building of the ward was financed by the Eastern Cape Health Department to the tune of R20 Million as the result of two years of lobbying and facilitation by the Igazi Foundation, which was founded as a direct result of the fact that the Eastern Cape province suffers from one of the highest incidences of blood cancer in the country.
“Igazi considers this to be phase one. The sixth floor of the building is available, and we are sourcing funding for a haemophilia clinic, bigger outpatients, and more offices for doctors,” said Cole Cameron of the Igazi Foundation.
The Eastern Cape Health department promised the haematology unit 22 nurses, but despite having advertised and recruited staff, it had yet to appoint them, Dr Littleton said. “Bhisho will not employ them because there is a moratorium (on hiring) and because there is no money. The unit is standing empty, and I refuse to move in until they employ the right staff,” he said.
Editor’s Notes: Dr Littleton is a far greater man than I – in his shoes I would have left for private practice a long time ago. Littleton will now have to continue administering to his patients and watch them roll the dice and dodge infection on a daily basis whilst this latest round of “egg in the face” further denies life to people desperate for a ‘better life for all’.
At the 9 May event it was palpably obvious that Littleton’s staff and patients alike had a great love for him – you could feel the quickening of pulses in the marquee when it came time for him to speak.
And then the words of support from East Cape Health Department head, Dr Siva Pillay made everyone believe that; “Yes, the Eastern Cape can rise above all the poofie kaka kaka wee wee thrown at it and serves it’s people with dignity.” Less than 12 days later the dream lies dashed and broken.
Farging lying bastards.