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LOBAMBA – Parliament heard that five people have died due to shortage of medicinal drugs in the country’s hospitals.

Senator Prince Kekela revealed that the drug shortage that was about to come to an end affected him in a very personal manner, as all the people who died were related to him.
He disclosed this information in his bid to oppose the passing of the Kuwait Fund for the National Referral Hospital, where government seeks to apply for a loan of about E20.1 million.
The loan will fund the construction of the hospital, staff houses and a university, and also to procure specialised equipment and hire expertise in various medical fields.
The prince’s observation was that Swaziland was not ready for the construction of a referral hospital but instead it should be using the loan on stocking medication, which reached crisis state a couple of months ago.
He said the Ministry of Health already had enough problems to create another one by building a referral hospital.

“The fact that a task committee has been set up to solve issues of the ministry alone is a sign that all is not right at the ministry, whether with the head of the ministry or the administration,” he said.
Health Minister Sibongile Simelane did not take kindly to the statement of the death of five people and moved that the prince withdraws his statement. However, Deputy President Senator Ngomuyayona Gamedze did not rule on the matter but instead afforded the minister the floor, so that she could state her case and probably clarify where there were grey areas with regards to the loan.
The minister argued that the referral hospital could save the country of millions of Emalangeni spent on 70 referral patients per week.

She said these patients normally travel with relatives at the expense of government, which did not only cater for their medical bills but also for the accommodation and transport.
She said all that Swaziland needs at this stage was a national referral hospital to replace the Mbabane Government National Referral Hospital which also serves as a regional referral, a health centre and a clinic.
The minister said this hospital, which was built in 1921, was too old to accommodate high-tech equipment and experts, and it also had a lot of burden in the self-referred patients who go there on their own and not as per doctor’s recommendation as the case should be.
The bills were passed yesterday. Essentially, the passing of the bills translates to an increase in public debt of GDP from 16.43 per cent to over per cent.

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