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HLATIKHULU – It’s more like getting out of the frying pan and into the fire.

This difficult situation seems to embody everything that has gone wrong in the country’s health care system, where, in a bid to quell fears, government recently purchased some of the medication that had been reported to be out of stock in hospitals across the country, albeit not knowing that the same facilities would soon run out of the most basic of needs – food.
The food shortage reportedly hit the country’s two large public hospitals in the Shiselweni Region (Hlatikhulu Government Hospital and Nhlangano Health Centre) last week, forcing some patients to opt out of wards.


So dire was the situation that hospital administrators at the two facilities had to run from pillar to post, seeking alternatives to feed patients accommodated in the wards. At the Nhlangano Health Centre, for instance, staffers said administration had to purchase food stock from their own pockets in order to keep the patients going over the past weekend after the common food supplier reportedly withdrew services over outstanding payment from government. In Hlatikhulu, on the other hand, patients revealed that for the past week, hospital staff had been dishing only two slices of dry bread for all the meals of the day. An interviewed patient said there was a brief relief on Tuesday when they were given porridge and soup. Thereafter, the patient said they were back to the bread supply. A spot check conducted by this publication discovered that staffers at the Hlatikhulu facility’s kitchen were literally left with nothing to do on Saturday after everything got finished.

Staffers said at the time, there was no food in the kitchen save for the bread which was being delivered to the hospital because the bakery supplying the facility always demanded an upfront payment. “There was a stand-off between government and the catering company, emanating from the latter’s failure to pay for services,” explained a staffer at the Hlatikhulu facility. Over the past days, patients were said to be relying on their attendants and other relatives who bought them something to quell their hunger pangs.

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