UKZN’s Multinational Lung Cancer Control Programme (MLCCP) has officially handed over the Chemo Infusion Unit and 20 chemo chairs to Addington Hospital’s Oncology Unit.

The hand over took place six weeks after the launch of the project’s Phase 2 achieved through collaboration with the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation’s Secure the Future (BMSF STF), the Cancer African Network for Care, Education and Research (CANcer), and the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health (KZN DoH).

MLCCP completed renovations at the Oncology: Chemo Suite Project and formally handed it back to Addington management. ‘The Hospital is honoured to have the UKZN-MLCCP back,’ said CEO Dr Mthetheleni Ndlangisa.

‘We appreciate the work that has been done by BMSF and UKZN-MLCCP under the leadership of Dr Themba Ginindza. This will not only benefit us as a hospital but our patients too,’ said Ndlangisa.

He said the relationship and the chemo suite will make patients feel respected and dignified. ‘The hospital’s Oncology unit has faced challenges in the past and we believe this relationship has vindicated us.’

MLCCP’s Phase 2 programme is based at UKZN’s School of Nursing and Public Health and includes an important clinical component evaluating lung health, histological subtypes and the genetics of lung cancer, clinical presentation, treatment outcomes and pulmonary rehabilitation.

The second phase of the R40-million MLCCP, being led by UKZN academic and epidemiologist Ginindza, and Professor Chite Asirwa of Kenya, will focus on fast-tracking diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer through the use of advanced oncological and respiratory diagnostic equipment.

BMSF Director Mrs Phangisile Mtshali thanked the UKZN-MLCCP team for making the relationship possible and the hospital staff for being open to the idea of working with BMSF and the University.

Mtshali also thanked the oncology sisters for their assistance. ‘I hope Addington as a regional hospital will continue working with academics in unsurpassed research.’

‘As BMSF, we have a commitment to patients and to the industry,’ said BMSF’s Senior Executive, Vice-President and Deputy General-Counsel, Mr Joseph Campisi Jr, who is a lung cancer survivor.

Addington Radio-oncologist Dr Tandiswa Lusu said the unit, which provides lung cancer therapy, handles between 90 to 270 patients a month.

The hospital treats various types of cancer with patients coming from as far away as Stanger, Bizana, Port Shepstone and Kokstad.

Ginindza and his team are not done yet. Renovations are taking place in five phases with stages 1-3 – the lung cancer research/diagnostic unit, oncology reception and the chemo suite – already complete.

Work on phases 4 and 5, which includes the oncology wards and oncology social space where educational programme will take place, is about to start. ‘We are also looking forward to securing our mobile screening unit and employing staff who will provide the services,’ he said.

The hand over was followed by a tour of the Unit and of the Oncology department.

In the first phase of the project which began in April 2017, a team of scientists worked with communities and health ministries in Kenya, the Kingdom of Eswatini, Tanzania and South Africa, promoting lung cancer awareness, identifying pathways of care, strengthening the cancer registry and understanding palliative care utilisation.

The KwaZulu-Natal arm of the project aims to initially benefit communities in Umlazi, Chatsworth, South Durban Basin, Imbali and Sobantu, with the potential for a scale-up to other areas.

Words: Nombuso Dlamini

Photograph: Supplied