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MBABANE – Cabinet has appointed a subgroup of ministers to assist in expediting medical supplies procurement after patients went on strike at Mbabane Government Hospital.

The subcommittee is led by the Acting Minister of Natural Resources and Energy, Jabulani Mabuza, who is also the substantive Minister of Agriculture. Minister of Commerce, Industry and Trade Manqoba Mabuza and his colleague in the Ministry of Finance, Neal Rijkenberg, are also part of the committee with the Minister of Health, Senator Lizzie Nkosi. The group has until the end of August 2023 to stabilise the country’s Health sector and ensure that all hospital needs are met.


Part of their deliverables includes expediting the procurement of medicines and medical supplies for all hospitals and clinics in the country.
Health standards are expected to be improved in September and the group of ministers were given leave to buy supplies on emergency bases in a quest to stabilise the health sector. Minister Nkosi confirmed that government was concerned over the current health crisis in the country.


She said Cabinet took a resolution to set-up a subcommittee of ministers for purposes of looking closely to the matter. She further confirmed the timelines and said the group of ministers had to rectify a gap dating back to June 2023, after a stock-take was undertaken and a forensic audit was instituted with the health sector. “It is true that Cabinet has appointed a subgroup of ministers to assist in expediting procurement and deliveries of medicines and medicinal supplies to health facilities. All other departments under the ministry have until the end of September to ensure that the standard is back to normal. However, the committee of ministers has set a target of end of August and we anticipate that the situation will greatly improve by the end of July,” she said.


Nkosi said part of the work of the committee was to ensure that all suppliers were paid their outstanding fees and that by the end of September, government did not owe any of the current suppliers. She said one of the contributing factors of the crisis was the unpaid supplies, which delayed delivery, plunging the country into a difficult health situation. The minister stated that the Ministry of Health was continuing with its scheduled deliveries of medicine and medical supplies to health facilities around the country. “It is important to note that even though government delivered some of the medicines and medical supplies, some items have not yet been delivered because of the lead times associated with medicine supplies.


“Since medicines are perishable items, once the ministry has placed an order with the suppliers, they in turn place orders with their manufacturers, who then proceed to manufacture the ordered medicines. This process can cause delays in the supply of medicines,” said Nkosi. The minister said as additional medicines and medical supplies were received by the Central Medical Stores (CMS), these were also supplied to health facilities as emergency deliveries. She said there were still medicines that were harder to source; however, she stated that the ministry was continuing with emergency procurement and deliveries. She encouraged health facilities to continue flagging low stocked items, as they were already doing.
The minister further confirmed that there were issues in treating orthopaedic patients.


“Government would also like to notify the nation that we do have a challenge with a backlog of orthopaedic cases that the Ministry of Health is working to resolve. We have a shortage in surgeons and we are working on a plan to get a lasting solution. This is part of the items that the group of ministers will be dealing with,” she said. Orthopaedic is a branch of medicine concerned with the correction or prevention of deformities, disorders, or injuries of the skeleton and associated structures (such as tendons and ligaments).

On Wednesday, patients, mostly suffering from orthopaedic related conditions, engaged on a picket outside the Mbabane Government Hospital. The patients protested and demanded that government provide them with drugs and medical attention. Chairperson  of the ministerial committee, Jabulani Mabuza, did not pick his phone when called for a comment after 7.30pm yesterday.