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South Africa: Better Care for Cancer Patients
Source: www.sanews.gov.za
Source Date: Friday, August 22, 2014
Focus: Citizen Engagement
Country: South Africa
Created: Aug 22, 2014

The hospital’s CEO, Gladys Bogoshi, today launched the upgraded oncology pharmacy, which will continue to provide cancer treatment for more than 25 000 patients from Gauteng and other provinces every year.
The pharmacy has been operating for almost eight months since being renovated.
Chief Oncology Pharmacist, Karen Robertson, said breast cancer was still the number one cancer diagnosed in women.
“… However, lung cancer and colon cancer are found in most of our patients, generally. These two, together with breast cancer, are the major ones that our patients suffer from,” Robertson said.
She said the spacious pharmacy has allowed for better interaction between patients and pharmacists.
“The area that we were previously in was not really satisfactory to the staff and the patients. We now have a much stronger defence system to protect our patients and staff from possible contamination from the drugs,” said Robertson.
One of the patients receiving treatment from the unit is Bulelwa Qununu, 30, who spoke to SAnews about her journey.
She travels from Germiston to get her treatment at CMJAH, and she has been treated at the unit for more than five years.
“I was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia in 2008… I went through a lot. Firstly, I had to do a bone marrow test, which took three days to heal from. Then I waited for the results so that they could tell me how long I have had the disease,” said Qununu.
She was admitted at the hospital after three days but did not have to go for chemotherapy.
“They just gave me some tablets… I have never been on chemo since then, I’m just taking my medication as prescribed,” said Qununu, a mother of three daughters.
Qununu was at the hospital for her routine check-up.
“I come here every month, but sometimes… if they [doctors] see nothing wrong with me, they instruct me to come after three months,” she said.
She says she hasn’t suffered from depression or stress due to her condition.
She said the only thing that bothered her before the pharmacy was renovated were the long queues.
“I think the new system works well for everyone. The queue is moving swiftly,” said Qununu, who is studying towards a certificate in Home Based Care.
Support for new pharmacy
Pharmacists at the unit now manage the stock better and say a new extraction unit will eliminate possible exposure to hazardous chemicals they work with.
Bogoshi said pharmacists receive a lot of support from various non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that care for cancer patients and survivors.
Head of Medical Oncology at CMJAH, Professor Paul Ruff, said the need to upgrade the pharmacy was mainly for a safe, clean and modern facility for the benefit of patients and hospital staff.
“Patients, nurses and oncologists rely on the pharmacy and its pharmacists. The pharmacists do not just dispense cancer treatment. They are responsible for the rigorous safety and efficacy handling requirements for oncology medicines,” said Ruff.
He said the hospital was one of two in Gauteng that offer cancer treatment to state-reliant patients. Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria is the other treatment facility.
There are six specialised pharmacists working in the unit.
The hospital started offering oncology services in the early 1980s. Various types of cancer are treated at the hospital unit, including bone marrow transplants.
The money to renovate the pharmacy was donated to the hospital by Roche Products -- a leading pharmaceutical company in oncology.
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