Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Don’t shoot the messenger.

The outcry in Swaziland at news that one in five Swazi children with the HIV virus may have been infected by negligent medical staff is now hysterical.

The latest to join the chorus of denial is the Swaziland Nurses Association (SNA).

It has condemned a respected academic journal the International Journal of STD and HIV, published by the British Association of Sexual Health and HIV, and its researchers as ‘racist’ because it reported that the children probably became HIV-positive because Swazi medical staff gave them injections with contaminated needles. The injections were often unnecessary.

The SNA is not alone in denying the research findings. The Swaziland Ministry of Health has rejected the researchers’ findings because they did not have permission from the Swazi Government to conduct the research.

The Secretary General of SNA Sibusiso Lushaba told the Weekend Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, ‘Their research findings are utter hogwash and rubbish. The allegations they peddle have never happened and will never happen even beyond their wildest dreams. They are out to slander not only the good name and work of nurses in the country but in the region and eventually the world.’

He added SNA would ‘leave no stone unturned in their bid to unravel the true colours of the organisation, while exposing its racist agenda’.

He said that the Swaziland Ministry of Health’s Scientific and Ethics Committee should be strengthened and a nursing and medical research authority should be established to ‘investigate and regulate anyone wishing to conduct research in the country while ensuring that they do not have ulterior motives. It should also tail them as they conduct their research to ensure that they do everything ethically and produce ethically balanced research findings that will be factual and be of assistance to other research fellows and not sensational as the British organisation’s’.

Lushaba and other critics in Swaziland have a deep ignorance of how scientific academic research is done. The research findings that have caused upset would have been ‘peer reviewed’ by other academics and the methods of research would have been verified and validated by scientific experts.

This research is not like reports published in the Observer and other Swaziland newspapers: full of lies, half truths and hysteria.

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