Nurses in Swaziland intend to strike in protest against the shortage of drugs in the kingdom.
They will march the streets of the capital Mbabane on Friday (29 September 2017) to deliver a petition to the Swazi Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini.
Swaziland Democratic Nurses Union (SWADNU) President Bheki Mamba said there were also a number of other grievances and health workers felt the government was ignoring them.
The Sunday Observer newspaper in Swaziland reported (24 September 2017) there were shortages of drugs for a range of illnesses and conditions including epilepsy, hypertension, diabetes, ulcers and treatments for HIV positive people.
It added, ‘Not only have the hospitals and clinics run out of drugs, they also do not have of alcohols and spirits used in disinfecting apparatus, bandages and gloves as supplies have also hit an all-time low.’
The Ministry of Health denied there were shortages.
The shortage of drugs has been ongoing in Swaziland for years. The government which is handpicked by King Mswati III, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, often fails to pay its bills to suppliers.
In June 2017, Swazi Senator Prince Kekela told parliament that at least five people had died as a result of the shortage of medicines in Swaziland.
At the time it was reported that about US$18 million was owed to drug companies in May 2017 and they had suspended delivery of medicines until bills were paid.
As ordinary people died in the health crisis Prime Minister Dlamini revealed that King Mswati and his mother paid for him to travel to Taiwan for his own medical treatment. Dlamini was not elected PM by the people of Swaziland. He was personally appointed by the King, as were all other government ministers and top judges in the kingdom. None of Swaziland’s senators are elected by the people.
In 2014, at least 44 children died and many hundreds were hospitalised during an outbreak of diarrhoea. The Ministry of Health said it could not afford readily-available drugs. Then, the Government spent US$1.7 million on top of the range BMW cars for itself.
About 680,000 doses of life-saving rotavirus vaccine could have been purchased for the cost of the 20 new BMW X5 sports utility vehicles, which would be enough to treat every child in the kingdom. The cars were for government ministers and top officials.
The purchase was one of many example of irresponsible spending in the kingdom.
In March 2014, US$600,000 was spent on the opening ceremony for the Sikhuphe Airport which was renamed King Mswati III Airport. The airport has been widely criticised outside of Swaziland as a vanity project for the King.
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