Members of the Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Office (CPLO) in the Kingdom of Eswatini, also known as Swaziland, have expressed their concern about persistent shortage of medicine in the health institutions of Africa’s last absolute monarchy country.
In a paper analyzing the possible effects of medicine stockouts in Swaziland, the CPLO members weigh in on the situation that reportedly caught the attention of the country’s king, with his spokesperson lamenting that corruption has undermined efforts to address the challenge.
“As citizens, and/or collaborators in the provision of healthcare service in the Kingdom of Eswatini, we are perturbed with unending reports of medicine (stockouts),” CPLO members say in their paper shared with sources on Thursday, February 8.
The evidence of the CPLO that exists to update ecclesiastical authorities and the Catholic communities on parliament issues in Swaziland is based on the fact that “medicine stock outs have always been something being taken by those frequenting health care facilities in the Kingdom of Eswatini,” they say, adding that “in the recent months, patients nearly went to the street but were prevented by their conditions.”
The Catholic entity highlight the necessity of stocking health facilities with medicine, saying, “The availability of medicines is the basis of any medical or health institution to run competently.”
Persistent shortage of drugs in health facilities in the Southern African country has far reaching implications and consequences, members of the CPLO say, and continue, “Drug shortage is demoralizing healthcare workers since it impacts negatively on their ability to carry out a treatment plan in an appropriate manner.”
The shortage also frustrates patients, who visit health facilities and “do not receive the health care” they need to address their situations, they add.
Drug shortage, the members of the Liaison office in Eswatini further say, “is making Government efforts to deliver healthcare to the nation an exercise in futility since it is turning healthcare facilities into ‘white elephants.’”
The Catholic entity add that the shortage destabilizes hopes of treatment plans and assessment of bodily functions, whereas “the hope of the person who is unwell that their health will be restored rests on the efficient execution of the treatment plan” and is “integral to the treatment plan is drugs.”
While members of the CPLO laud the government for establishing “a ministerial committee and the commissioning of forensic audit as efforts to address the shortage of drugs”, they also highlight the need for sufficient and timely funding.
“In some instances, there are challenges with inadequate funding from limited domestic budgetary allocation, delayed disbursements and an over-reliance on unpredictable external funding, especially as termination of donor agreement often leads to disruption in supply,” they add.
The CPLO members also want proper guarding of the procurement procedure which they say is not properly supervised.
To address the challenge of medicine stock outs in Swaziland’s health facilities, the Liaison office members stress the need for adequate governance structures that will facilitate the realization of proper and efficient coordination of procurement procedures at national level.