The kingdom’s only independent newspaper has accused the Swaziland Government of ‘killing its people’ with a shortage of medicines in hospitals.
The Government, handpicked by King Mswati III who rules Swaziland as an absolute monarch, has admitted it has not paid drug companies for past deliveries and supplies have dried up.
Under the heading ‘Government now killing its people’ a Times of Swaziland editorial comment on Monday (15 May 2017) asked, ‘What value does our government place on the life of an ordinary citizen when it allows our hospitals and clinics to run short of essential drugs?’
It added that people, ‘are now the ones suffering to death’.
The government says it does not have money to pay its bills. The Times commented, ‘The Health Ministry is too scared to say just how much is being owed and seems helpless with regards to coming up with a solution that ensures people go to the hospital today to find the drugs they need to stay alive.’
Principal Secretary (PS) at the Ministry of Health Dr Simon Zwane had told the Swazi parliament Public Accounts Committee (PAC), ‘We have not paid our suppliers.’
The Swazi News reported on Saturday (13 May 2017), ‘Dr Zwane said it was true that the country did not have various medication and offered to write a report on how the country had found itself in this particular position.
‘He said this was not a matter of whether tablets for the epileptic or those with diabetes was short, but across the board the problem was financial, noting that there was a problem with the release of money.
‘He said when the tenders for the delivery of drugs were awarded government and the suppliers entered into contracts, which had schedules on when they would be delivered and when they would be paid.’
Medicines currently unavailable in the kingdom’s health facilities include drugs for sexual transmitted infections, epilepsy, hypertension and diabetes.
The Swazi Observer reported on Monday (15 May 2017) that a majority of health facilities in the Lubombo region did not have supplies of Nevirapine syrup, a lifesaving medication for new-born babies. The medication is mainly used to prevent HIV transmission from mother-to-child during birth or breastfeeding.
A nationwide two-day strike by nurses in protest against drug shortages and other issues was cancelled following an Industrial Court order. Nurses will instead engage in a ‘go-slow’.
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