More than 300 Swazi cancer patients being treated in South African hospitals have been sent home according to Swaziland the Cancer Association of Swaziland, (CANASWA), after the government of King Mswati III could not meet their medical costs, the news agency IRIN reports.
Swaziland is experiencing acute financial pressures. ‘The entire fleet of [government] cars, except for emergency vehicles’ and those used by the security services, has been grounded, said an official who declined to be identified. The other exception is transport for King Mswati, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.
The government is the kingdom’s largest employer. Social services are being cut and public servants may not be paid after the end of June 2011. One fuel supplier alone is owed R17 million (US$2.42 million) and the lack of transport is constraining the activities of government personnel from agricultural field officers to health service providers, the official said.
The Ministry of Agriculture reported on Thursday (23 June 2011) that there is a 29,000 ton shortfall in the annual maize requirement - the country’s staple food - of about 114,000 tons, which will be filled by imports, but did not say how this will be financed.
Most of the cancer patients in South Africa were recipients of a special fund for the poor - in the absence of a national health system - but Health Minister Benedict Xaba told parliament recently the fund was exhausted.
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