Friday, December 4, 2020

Swaziland psychiatric patients escape hospital after ‘riot over food’

 Dozens of psychiatric patients at a hospital in Swaziland (eSwatini) escaped the institution after a ‘riot’ over food.


The Times of eSwatini reported on Friday (4 December 2020) it happened at the National Psychiatric Referral Hospital at Two Sticks, Manzini.


The newspaper said patients had not been receiving regular meals since 1 November. Sources told the newspaper sometimes patients got their meals late or not at all. The problem started after the Ministry of Health ordered the caterer of the institution to stop serving medical staff with meals because of the cost involved. Staff therefore went off premises to get food for themselves during meal times. 


The Times reported, ‘According to the insiders, yesterday afternoon, the hungry patients who had not been served meals for lunch, regrouped and charged towards the security guards and there was a scuffle.


‘Eventually, the sources said the patients overpowered the security guards, broke down the gate and got out of their demarcated area. They said some of the patients then used that chance to escape from the facility.’ The newspaper estimated ‘dozens’ of patients may have escaped.


The Times reported about 30 patients had previously escaped from the centre in 2017 after they were banned from smoking. 


In June 2019 nurses at the National Psychiatric Centre said they were considering releasing patients because there were no drugs to subdue them after supplies ran out and they feared for their own safety.


The drug shortage was part of a nationwide health crisis that continues today after the government failed to pay suppliers.

One nurse reported at the time, ‘The wards have become battle rings because the patients are fighting more than usual since there are those who need to be kept in check through medication. It’s hard for us because our patients can’t reason due to their ailment.’


See also

Swaziland health crisis: fearful psychiatric nurses say they might release patients


New report of Swaziland hospital crisis as Govt fails to pay suppliers, patients left unfed


Swaziland hospital crisis: govt not paid bills so patients only eat bread

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