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Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Swaziland with world’s worst HIV rate only has four months’ ARV supplies

Swaziland / eSwatini which has the highest rate of HIV infection in the world has only four months stock of life-saving ARV drugs, as the health system in the kingdom continues to disintegrate.

The government of the kingdom ruled by absolute monarch King Mswati III has not paid drug suppliers because it is broke.

The shortage was revealed to members of the Ministry of Health Portfolio Committee when they toured the kingdom’s Central Medical Stores (CMS) in Matsapha which houses Swaziland’s medical supplies.

Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dr Simon Zwane, said ARVs were available but not in adequate supply. They preferred to have stock for seven months. 

The Times of Swaziland reported CMS Deputy Director Themba Motsa said government allocated about E270 million for ARVs supply, but the Ministry of Finance released only E68 million which was paid to the various suppliers. 

The newspaper added, ‘He said the paid amount did not even cover the E100 million owed by the Ministry of Health to the suppliers. This, he said meant that the ministry was able to use the available resources to partly pay the suppliers, but there was still no funds to beef up the supply of ARVs.’

Chairman of the Ministry of Health Portfolio Committee, Mduduzi ‘Small Joe’ Dlamini said the Ministry of Health also suffered fuel shortages.

Swaziland Positive Living (SWAPOL) Director Siphiwe Hlophe said, ‘This is a disaster.’ She said Swaziland must prioritise buying ARVs. She added she had received reports that some clinics were allegedly rolling out expired ARVs to patients, especially those who were ignorant.

Hlophe said, ‘Does the country want us to die because if the shortage continues, a number of people will relapse.’ She said Swaziland would go back to a time where funerals were being held in every corner.

Swaziland has the highest rate of HIV infection in the world. As of 2017, 27 percent of the population, or 210,000 people, were infected. There were reportedly 7,000 new infections in that year.

Swaziland’s health system is in meltdown mainly because the government, which is not elected but appointed by King Mswati III, has not paid suppliers.

Medicines of all sorts have run out in public hospitals and health clinics across Swaziland. Local media reported in the past that many people, including children, have died as a result.
 
Hospital equipment, including at intensive-care units, has not been maintained and cannot be used. In September 2018 it was reported Mbabane Government Hospital was unable to feed its patients because it had no money. There are 500 beds at the hospital. Hlatikhulu Government Hospital faced a similar problem in February 2019. 

In June 2018 it was revealed there were only 12 working public ambulances in the whole of Swaziland because the government failed to maintain them. It had bought no new ambulances since 2013.

See also

Swaziland health crisis getting worse as budgets cut. Rural areas most affected
Medicine shortage: five die
Report: patients die as Swaziland government hospital runs out of cash
https://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2019/01/report-patients-die-as-swaziland.html

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Swaziland teacher arrested after boy, 10, beaten for defiance, needed medical treatment

A schoolteacher in Swaziland / eSwatini has been arrested after allegedly whipping a 10-year-old boy.

Corporal punishment was banned in the kingdom in 2015 but is still frequently used.

In the latest case reported, the boy from Gilgal Primary School needed treatment at a health centre. 

The teacher whipped the boy and kicked him while he was on the ground, according to a report in the Times of Swaziland. He was punished for defying the teacher, the newspaper said. He received a bruised lip, a swollen cheek and bruises on his back.

The teacher, Thulile Fortunate Mhlanga, aged 39, was charged under the Children Protection and Welfare Act.

There have been numerous reports of teachers illegally using corporal punishment. In March 2019 a 12-year-old girl at Mkhuzweni Primary School had her fingers broken when she was caned 25 times across her hand.

In November 2018 it was reported police were investigating St Theresa’s Primary School, Manzini, following an allegation that teachers whipped children to make them do better in their exams. In June 2018 teachers reportedly caned every pupil at Mbuluzi High School for poor performance. 

In August 2017 it was reported boys at Salesian High, a Catholic school, were forced to take down their trousers and underpants to allow teachers to beat them on the bare buttocks.

In May 2017 pupils at Lubombo Central Primary School in Siteki were thrashed because they did not bring enough empty milk cartons to class. 

In March 2017 children at Masundvwini Primary School boycotted classes because they lived in fear of the illegal corporal punishment they were made to suffer. Local media reported that children were hit with a stick, which in at least one case was said to have left a child ‘bleeding from the head’. 

In August 2016 an eight-year-old schoolboy at Siyendle Primary School, near Gege, was thrashed so hard in class he vomited. His teacher reportedly forced classmates to hold the boy down while he whipped him with a stick. It happened after a group of schoolboys had been inflating condoms when they were discovered by the teacher.

In June 2016 the school principal at the Herefords High School was reported to police after allegedly giving a 20-year-old female student nine strokes of the cane on the buttocks. The Swazi Observer reported at the time, ‘She was given nine strokes on the buttocks by the principal while the deputy helped her by holding the pupil’s hands as she was made to lie down.’

In September 2015 the Times reported a 17-year-old school pupil died after allegedly being beaten at school. The pupil reportedly had a seizure.

In March 2015 a primary school teacher at the Florence Christian Academy was charged with causing grievous bodily harm after allegedly giving 200 strokes of the cane to a 12-year-old pupil on her buttocks and all over her body.

In February 2015 the headteacher of Mayiwane High School Anderson Mkhonta reportedly admitted giving 15 strokes to a form 1 pupil for not wearing a neck tie properly.

In April 2015, parents reportedly complained to the Ndlalane Primary School after a teacher beat pupils for not following his instruction and shaving their hair. 

See also

Children fear beatings, miss school
Cane banned in Swazi schools
Teachers beat boys on naked buttocks
Research in Swaziland suggests spanking children is harmful and can cause mental problems

Monday, 24 June 2019

Swaziland nurses give govt one month to solve drugs shortage or they strike

Nurses in Swaziland / eSwatini have given government four weeks to solve the drugs shortage crisis in the kingdom or they will call a nationwide strike.

This was stated at a protest march where petitions were handed into the Ministry of Health and the Prime Minister’s Office on Friday (21 June 2019).

Swaziland, ruled by absolute monarch King Mswati III, has been short of medicines in public hospitals for more than a year. The government, which is not elected but handpicked by the King, is broke and has not paid suppliers. Media in Swaziland reported people, including children, have died because of the shortages.

President of the Eswatini Nurses Association Bhekie Mamba told the Observer on Saturday newspaper in Swaziland that government had lied in the past when it said medical supplies were being sent to hospitals and clinics.

Nurses also want government to prioritise hiring of nurses and for health care to be adequately financed.

The Observer quoted the nurses association’s Second Deputy Secretary Neliso Matsenjwa saying, ‘if this is not done in the next four weeks, we shall render the health sector unworkable’.

Last week psychiatric nurses in Swaziland said say they might release patients from their clinic because there were no drugs to subdue them after supplies ran out and they feared for their own safety.

See also

Swaziland health crisis: fearful psychiatric nurses say they might release patients
Swaziland hospital crisis: govt not paid bills so patients only eat bread
HIV drugs not available across Swaziland as health crisis deepens

Friday, 21 June 2019

No guarantee of workers’ rights in Swaziland, ITUC reports, and it’s getting worse

There is no guarantee of workers’ rights in Swaziland/ eSwatini and it is getting worse, a report from the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) concluded.

ITUC placed Swaziland, which is ruled by absolute monarch King Mswati III, near the bottom of countries across the world. It said in the past year ‘police brutality reached unprecedented levels’ and ‘security forces fired live ammunition at protesting workers’.

In a review of workers’ rights during 2018, ITUC reported, ‘In eSwatini, a peaceful demonstration, organised by the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) to deliver a petition to the deputy prime minister’s office, was brutally repressed by armed forces on 29 June 2018. 

‘The police prevented workers from reaching the deputy prime minister’s office by using water cannon and tear gas canisters, and attacked demonstrators with batons. Four members of TUCOSWA were gravely injured and taken to the hospital, while Majembeni Thobela, a security guard who was marching this day, received severe beatings and was left unconscious covered with blood on his face from head injuries. 

‘The police did not even bother to rush him to the hospital, and first aid was later applied to him by other marchers. Many demonstrators ran for safety, with pursuing police beating everyone in sight with batons. Some were cornered and severely assaulted by the police. A week after the events, two people were still in a critical state in hospital.’

The ITUC Global Rights Index ranked 145 countries on the degree of respect for workers’ rights in law and in practice. It reported the situation n Swaziland /eSwatini had worsened since last year.

The case highlighted by the ITUC was not an isolated incident. In August 2018, for example, police attacked three separate demonstrations by workers protesting for better pay and conditions. 

Police fired several gunshot blasts while textile workers, mostly women, protested at Nhlangano about poor pay. More than 200 paramilitary police and correctional facility warders with riot shields, helmets and batons guarded the entrance to Juris, one of the major factories, according to a local media report. It happened on 30 August 2018 when five firms closed after management locked gates after workers gathered.

On the previous Friday police shot and wounded a schoolteacher during a march in Manzini. On the Wednesday that week in Mbabane nurses were tasered. Both groups were protesting at the Swazi government’s decision to offer a zero increase in their salary cost of living adjustment.

In September 2018, police blocked nurses who were legally trying to deliver a petition to government as part of their ongoing campaign against service cuts. One local newspaper reported a policeman’s baton was broken in two during the confrontation.

Also in September, police officers were captured on video viciously attacking defenceless workers on the street in Manzini during a legal protest over pay. Dozens of  officers in riot gear and waving batons were seen chasing workers. At least one officer appeared to be wielding a whip. Workers were seen running fearing for their safety. The police indiscriminately hit the fleeing workers around their bodies. It was on the first day of a three day national strike organised by TUCOSWA. Protests took place simultaneously in the towns and cities of Mbabane, Manzini, Siteki and Nhlangano.

The strike had earlier been declared legal under Swaziland’s Industrial Relations Act.

On 13 April, police fired rubber bullets as about 2,000 workers and supporters took to the streets of Mbabane to protest against worsening living conditions. The AFP news agency reported one protestor was hit in the thigh by a rubber bullet.


See also 

Swaziland police fire gunshots during textiles dispute, third attack on workers in a week
Swaziland teacher who stopped police chief shooting into unarmed crowd appears in court
https://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2018/08/swaziland-teacher-who-stopped-police.html

Police in Swaziland attack nurses with taser during peaceful protest over pay
https://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2018/08/police-in-swaziland-attack-nurses-with.html

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Swaziland health crisis: fearful psychiatric nurses say they might release patients

Psychiatric nurses in Swaziland / eSwatini say they might release patients from their clinic because there are no drugs to subdue them after supplies ran out and they fear for their own safety.

The drug shortage is part of a nationwide health crisis after the government failed to pay suppliers.

Nurses at the National Psychiatric Centre, near Manzini, have been drawing attention to the problem for some months, but government has failed to respond.

Nurses told the Swazi Observer newspaper that they suffered violence from patients. 

It quoted one nurse saying, ‘The wards have become battle rings because the patients are fighting more than usual since there are those who need to be kept in check through medication. It’s hard for us because our patients can’t reason due to their ailment.’

Meanwhile, senators in Swaziland have given the Minister of Health Lizzie Nkosi seven days to submit a detailed report highlighting the problems in the health sector, including the drug shortages and proposed industrial action by health workers. 

Public services, including health, are grinding to a halt as the government, which is not elected but handpicked by absolute monarch King Mswati III, has repeatedly failed to pay suppliers. Medicines have run out in public hospitals and clinics and children who rely on free food at schools to fend off hunger go unfed.

See also

Swaziland hospital crisis: govt not paid bills so patients only eat bread
HIV drugs not available across Swaziland as health crisis deepens

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Swaziland public service unions call national strike to march on government

Public service unions across Swaziland / eSwatini plan a nationwide strike against government.

They intend to march and deliver petitions to a number of government ministries. It is due to take place on Wednesday (26 June 2019).

Four public service unions have joined forces, they are the National Public Service and Allied Workers Union (NAPSAWU), Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT), Swaziland Democratic Nurses Union (SWADNU) and the Swaziland Government Accountants Personnel (SNAGAP).

One of the matters the union wants sorted is the shortage of medicines at public hospitals and clinics. The government, which is not elected but handpicked by absolute monarch King Mswati III, is broke and has not paid suppliers.

SNAT Secretary General Sikelela Dlamini told the Swazi Observer that the shortage was so bad that people had died as a result.

Members of the SWADNU already plan to march on Friday (21 June 2019) over the issue of healthcare.

Workers have been campaigning for the past two years for cost of living salary increases of 6.5 percent. The government offered zero percent. Unions say inflation in Swaziland has risen by 14.5 percent over the past two years.

See also

Industrial Court stops Swaziland public servants strike at last minute
Swaziland public servants prepare for pay strike amid fears of renewed police violence against them
 HIV drugs not available across Swaziland as health crisis deepens

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Swaziland hospital crisis: govt not paid bills so patients only eat bread

Patients in a public hospital in Swaziland / eSwatini were only fed two slices of bread at meals when food ran out because the government had not paid suppliers. 

It was reported the bakery would only deliver bread if it was paid in advance. 

Swaziland is reeling from a health crisis because the government has not paid it debts. Nurses plan a protest march against government.

The Times of Swaziland reported on Monday (18 June 2019) that the food shortage hit two public hospitals, Hlatikhulu Government Hospital and Nhlangano Health Centre, both in the Shiselweni Region.

It reported at Hlatikhulu, ‘patients revealed that for the past week, hospital staff had been dishing only two slices of dry bread for all the meals of the day’.

It added, ‘An interviewed patient said there was a brief relief on Tuesday when they were given porridge and soup. Thereafter, the patient said they were back to the bread supply.’

At Nhlangano it was reported staff paid for food out of their own money.

In the past food shortages have been reported at the Mbabane Government Hospital and again at Hlatikhulu Government Hospital. 

The food problem is one of many facing the health service in Swaziland which is caused by the government’s inability to pay suppliers. There are shortages of many drugs across the kingdom. Local media reported in the past that many people, including children, have died as a result.

Members of the Swaziland Democratic Nurses Union (SWADNU) plan to march and deliver a petition to the Ministry of Health on Friday (22 June 2019) to demand it addresses the drugs shortage. 

It is not only a problem of drugs. Hospital equipment, including at intensive-care units at Mbabane Government Hospital, has also not been maintained and cannot be used. 

In June 2018 it was revealed there were only 12 working public ambulances in the whole of Swaziland because the government failed to maintain them. It had bought no new ambulances since 2013.

See also

HIV drugs not available across Swaziland as health crisis deepens
Swaziland health crisis getting worse as budgets cut. Rural areas most affected
Report: patients die as Swaziland government hospital runs out of cash
https://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2019/01/report-patients-die-as-swaziland.html