Wednesday, June 26, 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

Tuesday, June 25, 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, June 24, 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