Health facilities in Swaziland have reportedly run out of vaccines against polio and tuberculosis in the latest in a long-running shortage of medicines in the kingdom, due to non-payment of bills by the government.
New-born babies have been put at risk, according to a media report.
The Observer on Saturday reported (30 October 2017) the crisis surfaced in September 2017 when some health facilities ran out of the drugs. The newspaper said now Swaziland’s busiest hospital the Raleigh Fitkin Memorial in Manzini had been without the vaccines for the whole of December.
The shortage of medicines is rife in Swaziland where King Mswati III rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. The Swazi Government that is not elected but hand-picked by the King has failed to pay bills of drug suppliers.
The Government continues to maintain there is no shortage, but reports on the ground suggest otherwise.
In June 2017, Senator Prince Kekela told parliament that at least five people had died as a result of the drug shortages. About US$18 million was reportedly owed to drug companies in May 2017.
As ordinary people died the Prime Minister Barnabas 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.
Dlamini celebrated his 75th birthday in 2017. The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, reported (5 June 2017), ‘The Prime Minister said he was grateful that when Their Majesties were informed about his ailment in April, they responded hastily and ordered that he be taken to the best doctors in Taiwan, Taipei.
‘“Their Majesties gave orders that I go to the best and well experienced doctors in Taiwan. I am now looking forward to turning 76 years and I thank God for keeping me safe,” he said.’
The nature of his illness has not been publicly revealed.
King Mswati lives a lavish lifestyle with at least 13 palaces, a private jet aircraft with another due to arrive in 2018, and fleets of top-of-the-range BMW and Mercedes cars. Meanwhile seven in ten of his 1.2 million subjects live in abject poverty with incomes of less than US$2 per day.
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