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MANZINI – Medication availed to members of the public is exposed to all sorts of weather in some of the one-room pharmacies in Matsapha.

As the shortage of medication remains unsolved in the health sector, members of the public residing in some of the peri-urban areas in the Manzini Region, are exposed to medication that is not stored under the stipulated temperatures. This is because some of the so-called pharmacies are operating in one-room flats, with no ceiling, which minimises heat during extremely hot days. A visit by this publication’s reporters to Mbhuleni, under Kwaluseni Constituency, became testament to the submissions by the Ministry of Health that some of the retail pharmacies were inadequately equipped to keep medication.

In a stretch of less than two kilometers, there were four pharmacies in one-room flats where there were no qualified pharmacists within the shops. At Habile Wandvodzana Pharmacy, the assistant found claimed to have been requested by the owner of the establishment to look over for him while he ran his errands. She admitted to have no knowledge of how to prescribe medication as it was not her speciality. In fact, she informed this publication that the proprietor of the pharmacy was her spiritual father. When asked where the spiritual father was, she said: “He has gone to collect stock in Ngwane Park and also run his errands.”


Despite that there was no pharmacist within the establishment, on the wall, a copy of a supposed accreditation from the Eswatini Medical and Dental Council (EMDC) was hung along a trading licence. The pharmacy had sparse medication lined up on its shelves and had no ceiling or air conditioning to retain temperatures at the specified degrees for some of the pharmaceuticals. Later in the day, a male posing as the proprietor of the pharmacy, contacted this publication’s reporter, seeking to explain that he was in a partnership with another individual. When asked about his qualifications, the individual claimed to be a pharmacy technician and had opened the business with a partner whom he supposed had a qualification as a pharmacist. “My partner is a pharmacist but I’m not certain if he is registered with the Eswatini Medical and Dental Council,” he said. When pressed for the unique registration number of the pharmacist, who was supposedly his partner, the proprietor claimed that he was busy at work before requesting to contact this reporter later.

Meanwhile, about 10 metres away from this pharmacy was another trading as Esibusisweni Pharmacy. This pharmacy had no individual inside save for medication packed on the shelves. Proprietors of business establishments next to it pleaded ignorance to the whereabouts of its owners. Despite that it is located in a residential area where children were playing along the street; it had its door open and the medication easily accessible to the minors who may consume it. Also, four metres from Esibusisweni Pharmacy was Kadabuka Herbal Pharmacy, which was also unlocked and had no person inside.


At about 300 metres away, next to the community police station, there is another pharmacy. It was also found without a qualified pharmacist within its premises at the time this publication’s reporter visited it. The pharmacy was also in a one-room flat, which had gaps in its roofing. The assistant present said the pharmacist had gone to collect stock and would return later. When asked how she was capable of dispensing medication as this needed a qualified individual, she said her supervisor had taught her. When the pharmacist, Goodness Mashaba, was contacted she said her accreditation was not on display as the establishment had a leaking roof. However, a copy of her Certificate in Pharmacy from the Citizen University of  Zambia and a copy of the trading licence were hung on the wall.

She said: “I don’t display my registration from EMDC because whenever it is raining, there are leaks and we have to move things around.” Mashaba, when asked about the medication being exposed to the rainfall as well as the sun due to the inadequate roofing, said they tried to keep it away from the sun or water. She also informed this publication’s reporter that the Ministry of Health had visited her establishment and informed her that an air conditioner was necessary to control the temperatures. The pharmacist said she was in the process of doing this as there was money supposed to be given to her to do that. The visit by the Ministry of Health was said to have been in April. “They understood about our structure as we are in a rural area; but their major concern was the lack of an air conditioning, which we shall address,” Mashaba said. Meanwhile, about 100 metres from her establishment was another pharmacy, which had no qualified personnel at the time this publication visited.


The proprietor was said to have gone to collect stock at Ngwane Park. The woman found there claimed that she was keeping it going while she waited for the proprietor to return.
On the other hand, other one-room pharmacies were found around Eteni, Ndlunganye, Logoba and KaKhoza. Almost half of the pharmacies in the country are operating illegally, as they do not have registered pharmacists. It is worth noting that last week, this publication reported that most pharmacies were illegally operating following that there were only 279 registered pharmacists with the EMDC, much against the 447 trading licences for pharmacies issued by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Trade. The Ministry of Health, through the Director of Health Services, Dr Vusi Magagula, said the law stipulated that only a registered pharmacist should dispense medication to the public. He said this when asked if there was a law which stipulated that each pharmacy had to have a qualified pharmacist. “No compromise there!” he said.

This, he said, was in the Swaziland (Eswatini) Medicines Related Substances Control Act 9 of 2016 on Section 39. Also, the National Pharmaceutical Policy of 2011 states that the Ministry of Health should ensure that licensed pharmaceutical outlets such as retail pharmacies and wholesales are owned by and licensed to registered pharmacists. It further states that in the case of pharmaceutical manufactures, the majority shareholding should be held by a pharmacist or a group of pharmacists. Dr Magagula explained that for a prospective general medical practitioner to be registered with the EMDC, there was a need to apply proper vetting processes in regulating the medical cadre. He said the ministry was concerned and like it had been articulated, an assessment would be conducted to establish the manner in which the pharmacies were operated. The director of health services said there were allegations that some were being operated like spaza shops, which put the lives of the public in great danger, as some medication needed certain temperatures.

“We’ve heard that some of the pharmacies have their medication closer to even their roofing while they do not have a ceiling. This exposes the drugs to extreme heat and may lead to adverse challenges,” Dr Magagula said. He said the ministry was set to uproot these challenges in order to ensure that the public was not sold drugs that were set to cause them more harm than heal them. In a previous interview, Dr Magagula informed this publication that chalk was being sold over the counter by certain pharmacies under the guise of medical drugs. He said this after the Ministry of Health partnered with the International Police (Interpol) and raided local pharmacies, where they confiscated fake drugs.

Meanwhile, the establishment and operations of pharmacies stands to be  regulated after the passing of the proposed Pharmacy Bill No. 8 of 2021. The proposed Bill states that the sale of pharmaceutical products by individuals or companies that are unregistered could come with a fine of E50 000 or imprisonment not exceeding two years. The object of the Bill is meant to regulate the pharmacy protection and to establish the Pharmacy Council. Section 55 of the Pharmacy Bill, No. 8 of 2021, proposes that offences under the anticipated Act are to the effect that a person who, not being registered, yet carries on a business as a pharmacist or allows to be described as a pharmacist, commits an offence and may face two years imprisonment.

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