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MANZINI – “We seek the intervention of Cabinet as there are just no drugs in hospitals,” says the Swaziland Democratic Nurses Union (SWADNU).

SWADNU Secretary General (SG) Mayibongwe Masangane said the drugs shortage had reached alarming levels, as nothing had happened since they raised the alarm on the issue two months ago. He said the situation had worsened and their resolution was to now seek the intervention of Cabinet. Masangane said the intervention they sought was to at least have Cabinet allow the suspension of procurement protocols if need be, so that the Ministry of Health could deal with the immediate challenge – shortage of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies.


“The stock has not been replenished in most of the facilities since May and it is near impossible to work,” he said. To this, the Director of Health Services, Dr Vusi Magagula, said the challenge was there and government was doing everthing possible to deal with it. Dr Magagula said there had been supplies that were delivered in the past weeks to some of the regions through the assistance of other entities. He said despite this, there was a challenge as their vehicles were often without fuel due to a shortage. It is worth noting that this publication has reported that there was a shortage of fuel within government depots, such that some departments had to make contributions towards refuelling their fleet in order to render services.

Also, a number of health facilities have reported that they were having a stock-out of over 70 medical drugs and supplies. This publication reported that at Mankayane Government Hospital, on May 23, 2022, the pharmacy department issued a list of drugs that were not to be prescribed to patients, as they were on stock-out. According to sources, the medication that is not available includes syrups for minors, injections and treatment for non-communicable diseases (NCDs). It was claimed that the alternatives that were available had since dwindled due to the demand for medication.


The impeccable sources disclosed that the issue had been ongoing and had been reported to the management of the hospital. They said patients with hypertension always had to buy drugs like atenolol, slow K, digoxin and furosemide. The sources disclosed that in fact, almost all ailments had a drug shortage. Also on the list of drugs that are not available is medication for treating pain (Diclofenac and Tramadol) and severe infections (Cefazolin). On the other hand, the Auditor General (AG), Timothy Matsebula, was said to have been engaged to investigate the shortage of medicines. The shortage of medical supplies and drugs has been a constant challenge in the public health sector in the kingdom for time immemorial despite interventions by the Ministry of Health to strengthen its stock controls.

Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Health Dr Simon Zwane, in a previous interview, said the AG’s Office was carrying out an investigation to establish the challenges. He said some of the known causes was the inaccurate forecasting of commodities leading to over or under supply, the shrinking supplier base due to a number of reasons, including payment tendencies (United States of America Dollar (USD) against the local currency Lilangeni (SZL)).

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