Thursday, February 7, 2019

Another hospital in Swaziland runs out of food for patients as Govt bills go unpaid

Another public hospital in Swaziland / eSwatini has run out of food and patients have been left hungry because bills to suppliers have not been paid.
The Swazi Government is in financial meltdown and public services across the kingdom are grinding to a halt.

The Hlatikhulu Government Hospital has run out of food and patients are being fed thin porridge for supper, the Times of Swaziland reported on Wednesday (6 February 2019).

It added patients had been told to get their relatives to supply them with food or to send people to buy them food at nearby outlets. 

The Times reported the hospital could not pay its suppliers. It added it did not know how much was owed but ‘certain suppliers have not been paid yet they had been owed for years’.

It reported, ‘A spot check conducted yesterday unearthed that some patients had been able to carry on with only a plate of soft porridge which was served in the morning. A woman found at the maternity ward said even on the previous day, they were only served soft porridge for supper.’

It added there was only enough food in the kitchen for one day.

It said, ‘A staffer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, disclosed that the situation was so dire such that patients might have nothing to eat from today onwards.’

Previously, it was reported Mbabane Government Hospital had run out of food because of unpaid bills. The Times of Swaziland reported in September 2018 patients only had apples and juice. It was unclear how much money was owed.

The newspaper reported Dr Simon Zwane, Principal Secretary at the Ministry of Health, said there was ‘no food for the patients because the ministry had not paid the catering company that provides food for the hospital’.

In December 2018 it was reported that the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the Mbabane Government Hospital was close to shut-down because equipment was not being maintained. People were dying because of this, it was reported.

The Government is broke and public services across the kingdom have been run into the ground. The Times of Swaziland reported at the time, ‘A medical staff member, who spoke on condition of anonymity, alleged that they had on countless occasions raised the issue of the unfixed machines and that the response they received was that there was no money.’

Health services across Swaziland are in crisis. In September 2018 it was reported at least six children in Swaziland had died from diarrhoea and many more were sick because the government was broke and could not pay for vaccines. It would cost US$6 for the vaccine to immunise a child.

Medicines of all sorts have run out in public hospitals and health clinics across Swaziland. 

In July 2018 it was reported that Swazipharm, Swaziland’s largest distributor of pharmaceutical products and medical equipment to the healthcare system in the kingdom, could not buy new stocks because the Ministry of Health had not paid its bill. Swazipharm Sales and Marketing Manager Cindy Stankoczi confirmed it had cut the supply of drugs to local health institutions.

In June 2018 it was revealed there were only 12 working public ambulances in the whole of Swaziland to serve the population of about 1.2 million people because the government failed to maintain them. It had bought no new ambulances since 2013.

Meanwhile, King Mswati III who rules Swaziland as one of the world’s last absolute monarchs wore a watch worth US$1.6 million and a suit beaded with diamonds weighing 6 kg, at his 50th birthday party in April 2018. 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.

Seven in ten of Swaziland’s 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.

See also

Children at risk of food poisoning as Swaziland Govt’s financial crisis continues

Swazi Govt ‘runs out of cash’

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