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MANZINI – The solution to the shortage of drugs in public hospitals is to pass a vote of no confidence in the Executive, says some Members of Parliament (MPs).

The MPs were expressing their frustration and dissatisfaction in the manner in which the shortage of medical drugs was being handled. This publication engaged some of the MPs seeking to establish the challenges of the electorate they represented and what they proposed could be the  solution. The questionnaire to the legislators was subsequent to the grievances raised by healthcare workers through a petition to the Lizzie Nkosi-led Ministry of Health and office of the Prime Minister (PM), Cleopas Sipho Dlamini.

Last Friday, nurses under the banner of the Swaziland Democratic Nurses Union (SWADNU), which was also in the company of the National Public Service and Allied Workers Union (NAPSAWU), listed among a plethora of issues, the shortage of pharmaceuticals in hospitals. This was against the backdrop of this publication reporting that there were over 28 drugs on stock-out at the Raleigh Fitkin Memorial (RFM) Hospital.


Some of the MPs confirmed that there was a challenge in health facilities as the shortage was countrywide. Motshane Constituency MP Robert Magongo, acknowledged the shortage of medication and that the public at instances sought assistance from him to buy  medication. Magongo said the only solution he saw was to pass a vote of no confidence in the Executive as they had failed to deliver an adequate healthcare system. “A vote of no confidence is the solution,” he said.  Also, Ndzingeni Constituency MP Lutfo Dlamini wondered why certain stock was rendered obsolete while there was a dire shortage of drugs in health facilities. He expressed concern that the medication was being stolen and wondered why the culprits were not fired for putting the lives of emaSwati in danger. “I know government is not keen to fire people; in fact, while I was a minister, there is someone who stole government machinery. He was not fired, instead, I recently learnt that he was promoted,” Dlamini said.

The legislator bemoaned that pharmacies had all the pharmaceuticals that were out of stock in public health facilities. This, he supposed, meant something was not right. He said critical medication for non-communicable diseases were not available. He said an engagement should be held to establish if there was no money, if there were no suppliers and or the medication was stolen. Dlamini said what he was certain of was that the budget for the Ministry of Health was approved as is and the mystery now was on what had happened to the allocation. The MP said at some point, he offered to transport the medication while also proposing that the private sector should be roped in. However, he said this fell through.

On the other hand, Phondo Constituency MP Xolani Bhiya Vilakati said there was lack of accountability from government. He said there was lack of priority and delivery on services that were needed by the citizenry. “There are more pharmacies now, which hints that our health system is ill. In fact, government should stop granting permits to pharmacies as it could be promoting the theft of medication by some personnel in order to supply them,” Vilakati said. He said the health budget should be sufficient and not diverted just like things were in the Umbutfo Eswatini Defence Force (UEDF) health facilities.


Furthermore, Kwaluseni Constituency MP Sibusiso Mabhanisi Dlamini said government should adopt the system used by the UEDF in dealing with medication in hospitals. He said whatever the army was doing, worked for them as their facilities never ran out of medication. Lomahasha Constituency MP Ndumiso Masimula said: “The only solution is for government to be accountable and use the budget as allocated for the Ministry of Health. People are dying yet we say medication will be bought as the budget had been passed.” Mkhiweni Constituency MP Michael Masuku bemoaned that healthcare workers were being paid for doing nothing as they had no working tools. Meanwhile, Nkwene Constituency MP Philemon Nhleko, said it should not be uniform that patients were given prescription notes to buy medication in pharmacies. He said legislators should request that a portion of the approved loans should buy medication as the situation was dire in hospitals.

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