Thursday, December 3, 2009


Editorial Comment in the Swazi Observer


REPORTS carried by the international media that one out of five Swazi babies contract HIV through the negligence of nurses and other health professionals in the country’s hospitals deserve more than just a casual look.

The findings of the respected British Association of Sexual Health and HIV are not only shocking, but go a long way to question Swaziland’s commitment to reverse the tide in so far as the incidence of HIV is concerned. Such reports come at a time when the country is at pains trying to shed the ruthless stigma of leading the world in infection rate. Such reports also call to question the country’s health sector and overall standards of service delivery.

Now that the ‘cat is out of the bag’ there is no room for denials or blame apportioning. Our government is (in)famous for engaging the denial mode as a first reaction to an impending crisis. By the time the facts are gathered and the picture is clearer, the damage is already at an advanced stage. Look at the dithering we were subjected to by the Ministry of Health regarding the issue of the shortage of drugs and medicines in the country’s health institutions.

When the matter was first raised many months ago, it was brushed aside as a creation of the fertile imagination of journalists who wanted nothing but to pour scorn on the abilities of the leadership. What do you know? A few weeks ago, the ministry admitted that there was a E250 million ‘drug shortage’ problem in the country.

The de-worming fiasco is a close second in examples of the ‘denial virus’ that sometimes afflicts our government. It was after a few admissions of students with stomach problems that government finally succumbed to warnings that there were problems with the whole process. We can go on and on with examples of this out of your depth trip down ‘denial lane’.

With the latest report about the AIDS babies, we can already see the suits in the ministry putting on the caps and coats of denial. We can already hear them say: ‘Aghh, this is just a ploy by these white people to amass donations from the international community at the expense of Swaziland.

They cannot be taken seriously because they are involved in a sinister plot to demonise our beloved country.’ That is when the wheels fall off the wagon. When will it be that as a country we will start to view things objectively and look deeper into an issue before we start rubbishing it as useless chatter?

We call on Minister of Health Benedict Xaba to heed the advice of Senator Prince Kusa Dlamini and cause for the setting up of a judicial commission or whatever appropriate structure to get to the bottom of this matter. We owe it to the lives of our children, sisters and mothers to get to the bottom of this issue. The truth shall come out!

Swazi Observer 3 December 2009

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