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SITEKI – Lubombo Referral Hospital has run out of Morphine and Norepinephrine, which are essential drugs in the treatment programme of patients recovering from COVID-19.

According to a senior nurse at the referral hospital, there are four patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) out of the 32 who are currently admitted. Morphine is a strong painkiller. It is used to treat severe pain, for example after an operation or a serious injury, or pain from cancer or heart attack. On the other hand, Norepinephrine, also called Noradrenaline, increases blood sugar levels, increases heart rate and increases contractility. “These two drugs are important and essential to be administered to patients recuperating from COVID-19. However, the good news is that the World Health Organisation (WHO)has promised to assist the country with the drugs which are not in stock in health facilities,” the healthcare worker said.


The healthcare worker said they had also raised concerns to management regarding the 6pm to 5am curfew as it exposed them to being assaulted by soldiers when they knocked off from, or on their way to work. The senior nurse mentioned that there were incidences where people were allegedly assaulted by soldiers on the streets and after 6pm. “Sometimes we knock off and have to walk to our destinations due to the introduced rationing of fuel by government. We are prone to being assaulted because members of the army do not consider any explanation given to them. We believe government has to take action in our case so that we are safe from such occurrences,” alleged the senior nurse. Mayibongwe Masangane, Secretary General of the Swaziland Democratic Nurses Union (SWADNU), said the continued shortage of crucial drugs like the Norepinephrine and Morphine had been aggravated by government’s failure to pay outstanding debts to suppliers. Masangane indicated that the country was not ready to deal with the third wave of the coronavirus and that government should deal with the drug shortage issue. He said almost all clinics and hospitals were experiencing the same problem of drug shortage.


“We are aware of this predicament and government has been promising to remedy the situation for a long time. We just got informed that even ARVs, are running out of stock in most health facilities. It is a serious issue that needs government to act swiftly because we fear the worst,” he said. Director of Health Services Dr Vusi Magagula, when quizzed on the number of patients admitted to other facilities, he said he was yet to get a report. “I am aware that the last report showed that 22 patients were admitted to The Luke Commission with 11 in ICU, but the numbers might have changed. I have to check to give the exact figures as others are admitted in our different health facilities and some recuperating in isolation being monitored by healthcare workers,” he said. He further assured the hospital that the ministry had addressed the issue of the curfew with the security forces to ensure that they were not subjected to harassment and assault.

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