Drugs to treat HIV infection are not available in most hospitals and clinics across Swaziland / eSwatini as the public health systems sinks further into crisis.
Swaziland has the highest rate of HIV infection in the world. As of 2017, 27 percent of the population, or 210,000 people, were infected. There were reportedly 7,000 new infections in that year.
The drugs known as antiretrovirals (ARVs) have been out of stock in many places for at least a month, the Times of Swaziland reported on Wednesday (12 June 2019).
It said the shortage affected ‘most public health institutions’. It added, the shortage also affected some private health facilities. It said the shortage was countywide and patients had been told to seek alternative suppliers.
Raleigh Fitkin Memorial (RFM), Manzini, is one hospital that still has supplies of the drugs. The Times reported, ‘Sources at the RFM Hospital have revealed that there were currently unbelievable queues for ARVs because of the shortage at other health centres.’
Swaziland’s health system is in meltdown mainly because the government, which is not elected but appointed by absolute monarch King Mswati III, has not paid suppliers.
Medicines of all sorts have run out in public hospitals and health clinics across Swaziland. Local media reported in the past that many people, including children, have died as a result.
Hospital equipment, including at intensive-care units, has not been maintained and cannot be used. In September 2018 it was reported Mbabane Government Hospital was unable to feed its patients because it had no money. There are 500 beds at the hospital. Hlatikhulu Government Hospital faced a similar problem in February 2019.
In June 2018 it was revealed there were only 12 working public ambulances in the whole of Swaziland because the government failed to maintain them. It had bought no new ambulances since 2013.
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