Colleagues and friends paid tribute to beloved broadcaster Xolani Gwala on Thursday at a special Primedia memorial service in Randburg on Thursday.
Gwala passed away after a long battle with colon cancer.
He was a passionate advocate for the need for access to cancer treatment in the public health sector and launched the #Change4Cancer campaign in October 2018.
Melanie Rice speaks to the Cancer Alliance's Salome Meyer, last interviewed by Gwala in February.
Meyer reports that there has been no change since then with regard to the accessibility of cancer treatment. In fact, she says, things are getting worse.
Half an hour ago I received a call to say at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital radiation oncology services are basically at a standstill, there's a 3-month waiting list - that's at one hospital.— Salome Meyer, Consultant - Cancer Alliance
I don't think cancer services in the public service have increased, in fact it's getting worse by the day.— Salome Meyer, Consultant - Cancer Alliance
We also have the situation where our patients still don't have access to medicines that are potentially life-saving.— Salome Meyer, Consultant - Cancer Alliance
Meyer says at the moment, government's focus is on National Health Insurance (NHI), not on essential services.
She says people need to be aware that cancer is not treated at the primary healthcare level, bar routine screening procedures like cervical cancer pap smears.
The rest of your cancer services happen at a tertiary level. So, when we start talking about benefit packages with regard to cancer, nobody knows what that is going to look like.— Salome Meyer, Consultant - Cancer Alliance
She says this is extremely worrying as more and more people are being diagnosed with the disease with the result that the burden on the state will keep growing.
She says the relevant organisations like the Cancer Alliance and also the #Cancer4Change movement started by Gwala intend to bring to government's attention that planning in this regard is vital.
The Cancer Alliance brings together organisations under one umbrella to advocate for equitable and affordable treatment and care, therefore bringing the voice of patients and survivors and their families to government.— Salome Meyer, Consultant - Cancer Alliance
RELATED: Honouring Xolani Gwala
Xolani Gwala will be laid to rest in his home town of Impendle in KwaZulu-Natal on Saturday.
Listen to the conversation with Meyer here: