Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Six children die as diarrhoea once again strikes Swaziland

Six children died from diarrhoea in four days in Swaziland / eSwatini and about another 1,000 others have been treated for the infection caused by the rota virus, a senior official said on Monday. 

Deaths from this preventable disease occur in the kingdom every year. But the government, ruled by King Mswati III as the last absolute monarch in sub-Saharan Africa, is broke and continually fails to tackle to problem.

The latest round of deaths was announced by Director of Health Services Vusi Magagula on Monday (5 August 2019), the APA news agency reported.

‘These fatal cases are a result of delayed treatment,’ he said. The deaths occurred at two health centres in the south of the kingdom.

Out of the 1,000 children aged five years and below, most were admitted to hospital.

In Swaziland diarrhoea is rated among the top three causes of mortality especially amongst children under five years of age. In the worst case in recent years in 2014 at least 40 children died during an outbreak. Hundreds were hospitalised and more than 3,000 cases were recorded. 

In 2014 the World Bank estimated 17.6 percent of children aged under five suffered from diarrhoea in a two week period it surveyed.

Diarrhoea is a preventable disease. It is a bowel infection often caused by contaminated water or food. According to the website of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, a 25-pack of one dose vials of rotavirus vaccine to immunise against diarrhoea costs US70.49 (E1,050) at commercial rates. Typically a child needs two doses to be immunised.

APA reported the Swaziland Ministry of Health was downplaying the latest cases claiming it did not amount to an ‘outbreak’.

Swaziland is broke and public services are grinding to a halt. All kinds of medicines are in short supply in public hospitals and clinics because the government has failed to pay suppliers. Nursing posts and other vacancies remain unfilled as part of a government policy to cut its wages bill. At least 400 qualified nurses are unemployed, Dr Vusi Magagula recently told a meeting of pensioners in Mbabane.
Seven in ten of Swaziland’s estimated 1.3 million population live in abject poverty with incomes less than the equivalent of US$2 per day. The King has 13 palaces. He also owns fleets of top-of-the range Mercedes and BMW cars. His family regularly travel the world on shopping trips spending millions of dollars each time.

The King wore a watch worth US$1.6 million and a suit beaded with diamonds weighing 6 kg, at his 50th birthday party. Days earlier he took delivery of his second private jet, a A340 Airbus, that after VIP upgrades reportedly cost US$30 million. He received E15 million (US$1.2 million) in cheques, a gold dining room suite and a gold lounge suite among his birthday gifts.

See also

Six children die in Swaziland in diarrhoea outbreak. Vaccines short since government has not paid suppliers

Swaziland nurses picket, drugs run out, lives put at risk as government fails to pay suppliers
Medicine shortage: five die

Swazi King parties while children die

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