Monday, June 18, 2018


There are only 12 working public ambulances in the whole of Swaziland / Eswatini to serve 1.1 million people as the government fails to maintain them.

It has bought no new ambulances since 2013.

Director of the Emergency Preparedness Response Department under the Ministry of Health, Masitsela Mhlanga told media there were 20 broken-down ambulances in garages that were not being repaired.

The Times of Swaziland reported on Friday (15 June 2018) the country was ‘heading for an imminent peril’.

It reported, ‘Speaking on national radio yesterday morning, Mhlanga said the department was struggling to reach out to the nation due to the shortage of ambulances.’

It added, ‘Mhlanga said the department suffered a great consequence when the ambulances were taken to CTA [Central Transport Administration garages] for repairs because they took too long to return on the road yet there was a high demand for health services.’

He said Swaziland last received new ambulances in 2013 and their service warranties had now expired.

‘He suggested that government should provide another garage that would specialise in the ambulances so that the services would not be disturbed by the delays at the State garage,’ the Times reported.

It added, ‘It was also gathered that another challenge was that at times, the motor vehicles were not properly fixed which resulted in them developing mechanical faults while transporting patients.

The Times reported, ‘Last week, it was reported that an ambulance door was tied with bandages to prevent it from opening while paramedics were ferrying patients to health centres at Dumako area. “Ambulances operate 24 hours so they should be serviced regularly,” Mhlanga said.’ 

It added, ‘He revealed that some work stations had no ambulances at all yet they were expected to provide services to the nation. “People are sick, and accidents happen every day so it is not good for the ministry to run short of ambulances,” he said.’

Last week Finance Minister Martin Dlamini told the Swazi House of Assembly that Swaziland was broke and the kingdom was running out of cash. Government suppliers go unpaid and arrears stand at E3.28 billion (US$240 million), he said.

Despite the financial meltdown the Government paid US$30 million to buy Swaziland’s absolute monarch King Mswati III his second private jet plane. It was delivered days ahead of his 50th birthday on 19 April. On that day at a party he wore a watch worth US$1.6 million and a suit weighing 6 kg studded with diamonds.

On 4 June 2018 the government presented the King with a birthday gift described by the Swazi Observer as a ‘luxurious lounge suite trimmed with gold’. In addition, the Queen Mother gave him a dining room suite made of gold. He also received cheques from companies and organisations in his kingdom worth at least E15 million.

Meanwhile, seven in ten of the 1.1 million population live in abject poverty with incomes less than the equivalent of US$2 per day. The global charity Oxfam named Swaziland as the most unequal country in the world in a report that detailed the differences in countries between the top most earners and those at the bottom.

This month it was reported that children collapsed with hunger in their school because the government had not paid for food for them. The kingdom had previously been warned to expect children to starve because the Swazi Government had not paid its suppliers for the food that is distributed free of charge at schools. The shortage is reported to be widespread across the kingdom.

Medicines, including  vaccines against polio and tuberculosis have run out in many government hospitals and clinics because drug suppliers have not been paid. 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.

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