Parliamentarians in Swaziland have given the government seven days to sort out the drugs shortage crisis crippling public health facilities in the kingdom.
E236 million (US$18 million) is reportedly owed and drug companies have suspended delivery of medicines until bills are paid.
The House of Assembly debated the crisis on Thursday (18 May 2017) and agreed a motion compelling Minister for Health Sibongile Simelane to ensure the availability of drugs in hospitals within seven days.
The Swazi Observer reported members of parliament wanted to know what had happened to the E1 billion allocated to health in the national budget in February 2017. ‘They wanted to know if the money they passed was real money or it was just numbers,’ the newspaper reported.
The Times of Swaziland reported the House of Assembly, ‘called for the suspension of all other projects while this matter was being sorted, wondering what benefit would be achieved if the country had beautiful roads or buildings yet had a dying nation’.
Principal Secretary (PS) at the Ministry of Health Dr Simon Zwane had previously told the Swazi parliament Public Accounts Committee (PAC), ‘We have not paid our suppliers.’
Medicines currently unavailable in the kingdom’s health facilities include drugs for sexual transmitted infections, epilepsy, hypertension and diabetes.
Swaziland, where King Mswati III rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, came last in a study of the healthiest nations in the world in 2015.
It came bottom out of 145 countries in the World’s Healthiest Countries report published by Bloomberg. Data for the report was compiled from the United Nations, the World Bank and the World Health Organisation.
The Bloomberg rankings gave each country with a population of 1 million or more a health score and a health-risk score.
Each country’s place was calculated by subtracting their risk score from their health score.
The health score is based on factors such as life expectancy from birth and causes of death, while health-risk is based on factors which could impede health such as the proportion of young people who smoke, the number of people with raised cholesterol and the number of immunisations.
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KINGDOM BOTTOM IN WORLD HEALTH RANKING