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DRUGS SHORTAGE: LACK OF INSULIN LEAVES 3 DEAD

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MBABANE – The impact of the shortage of medical drugs is starting to manifest as seen in the death of three people due to lack of insulin.

It is a matter of life and death, yet patients on insulin are still required to wait a little bit longer. The supplies, according government, are beginning to come into the country from different suppliers.  Already, three people are said to have died as a result of insulin shortage in the country since December 2022. Insulin has been in short supply since October 2022. Currently, some people on insulin, who are living with diabetes, are forced to part with E1 500 to get Actraphane, which comes in pen-injections.

Available

This is currently the only available medication at pharmaceuticals, while the country’s public hospitals have been without the medication for the past three months. Eswatini Diabetes Association Director Dumisile Mavuso confirmed the death of the three who were also members of her organisation. Mavuso said from December to date, they lost a teenager, middle-aged man and an elderly who all died in a space of just one week. She said this had prompted the association to reach out for help and received a positive response from the Eswatini Royal Insurance Corporation (ESRIC). Mavuso said they wrote a letter to ESRIC, seeking assistance for the purchase of insulin from a different supplier from government. The director said in response, ESRIC gave them the sponsorship and they bought the medication which would be handed over to government.

She stated that they managed to purchase a two-month supply for the patients from ASD Inc and they delivered it last week Thursday. This, she said, was just to save the situation, as things were getting out of control, adding that they were of the view that government was working on the normal supply after its depletion. Currently, she said the insulin was passing through the Central Medical Stores (CMS) where it was being checked. “The medication will be handed over to government and the association will monitor it together with government, on whether our clients get it,” she added. Mavuso said the organisation could not roll out the insulin single-handedly, but needed the assistance of government.

According to Mavuso, they had a serious engagement with government following the insulin shortage and were guaranteed that they were working on the short-comings. “We were told by government that they were dealing with their unpaid suppliers, clearing outstanding debts, among other things,” Mavuso said. Reached for comment on the insulin shortage and how far government had gone in addressing the issue, Acting Director of Health Services Dr Velephi Okello stated that the supplies were beginning to come in from different suppliers. Hopefully, she said next week there would be a clear indication of delivery dates to the country.

Situation

When pressed further on what government was doing to try and avoid the situation of key drug shortages repeating itself in the future, Dr Okello said they were working on their electronic system for the monitoring of drug supplies at the central and peripheral facilities. This, she said, was being established and in some instances improved to enable quick detection of low stock. Furthermore, she said the ministry was engaging relevant ministries to expedite other supply chain processes. The acting director was also questioned on whether the medications and drugs supply had to do with financial challenges, she said the supply chain systems did not only involve financial inputs. Dr Okello said the ministry was also working on improving other areas of the chain that had been found to be weak.

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