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I just wanted to share my thoughts below concerning The Luke Commission (TLC) story that has been in the papers for some time.


I have been following with keen interest the unfolding developments at TLC over the past months and I really felt that I should also add my voice and thoughts as well. I work with a non-governmental organisation (NGO) and I have had the opportunity to work with TLC for more than 10 years. I have always admired the way TLC is so focused on clients and on implementing innovative solutions to client needs. I have been at the TLC campus a number of times and in fact, I got my COVID-19 vaccines at TLC. The staff is professional and friendly. The institution itself is top-notch and I can even say it is of ‘First World’ standard. I have always admired how they use technology in patient management and also in managing their resources including drugs. I was also extremely impressed when I saw the cash vending machine to give patients who are financially struggling reimbursement on some of their travel costs. The founders, Echo and Harry, are among the most passionate people I have seen when it comes to patients – it is so easy to see that this to them is a calling and not a job.

The issue

I was truly pained when I saw a recent newspaper article purporting that the TLC might be forced to close operations soon. The question in my mind is why on earth would we (as a country) ever allow such a thing to happen? The mere thought of having such a busy, reputable and client oriented health facility closing down is unimaginable for me. Yes, we have our differences and no-one is perfect, but who truly benefits if TLC shuts down? Can we, for once, put our differences on the side and shift our focus to the patients who are going to bear much of the brunt if TLC shuts down. TLC attends to almost 350 000 clients in a year, which translates to almost 1 000 patients a day. This, by any standard, makes TLC one of the busiest facilities in Eswatini. Let us also remember that these patients are not just numbers – these are someone’s mother, father, sister, brother, uncle and aunt. Why should our relatives be allowed to suffer? Are we saying, as a country, we cannot sit down and put our differences aside for the sake of patients?

The cause

From my understanding, the issues at TLC came about when they build a first- of-its-kind oxygen plant ,which saved the lives of thousands of emaSwati during the COVID-19 era. The plan was built at a huge cost with an understanding that government was going to procure oxygen from the plant to ensure viability and financial stability at the institution. I understand that TLC took a loan to build this life-saving plant and servicing that loan has put a huge financial strain, contributing to the current crisis. What again pains me is that TLC built this plant as an emergency measure to save lives during COVID-19 and this is how they get rewarded after making such a huge, bold and risky move. I would have seriously thought that as a nation, the least we could do was thank TLC by buying the oxygen from them to ensure financial stability or at least help them in paying off the loan they took. Yes, I understand there are standards that the plant should meet, but again, why can’t government work closely and support TLC to meet those standards? From my understanding, and I think it is not rocket science, buying oxygen from TLC will actually save government a lot of money and will promote sustainability and self-sustenance for the country.

The solution

We have the lives of over 350 000 clients and more than 700 staff at stake if TLC shuts down. If this is not a huge crisis that deserves urgent remediation, I do not know what else qualifies to be  that. For me, by now, I would have expected an emergency committee to be put in place at government level to address the issues and ensure the viability of TLC. The bottom line is that allowing TLC to shut down is almost criminal for me! Remember this comes at the background of huge medical and supply crisis in the public hospitals and clinics. Should government not be putting all efforts to at least save an institution where quality services are still being provided and patients are getting good help? I strongly call upon our government to please take heed and do something on this issue for the sake of humanity.