Mbabane: The Eswatini Nurses’ Association has issued that the government risks being sued for failure to provide essential drugs, which include maternal supplements for pregnant women.
Bheki Mamba, the association’s president stated during an interview with Independent News that failure to provide essential drugs like maternal treatment pills would almost always result in the defective birth of a child. Government, being the duty bearer for the provision of the drugs would have to give an account, which would possibly be done in the court of law, said Mamba.
Mamba added that in other countries even the slightest loopholes on the part of governments were taken to court and with good representation a plaintiff was rewarded.
Earlier on, the ministry of health, through its director, Dr Vusi Magagula, admitted to the health ministry suffering the shortage of essential drugs which have seen pregnant women not getting the mandatory monthly supplementary pills.
Government has now resorted to prescribing maternal drugs which are readily available at pharmacies. But, according to Mamba, not all pregnant women could afford the pills. Hence, it is left to be seen what alternative these women have. “A number of pregnant women are resident in remote and impoverished areas and can barely support themselves and I cannot see how they can afford the supplementary drugs,” stated the president. He added that the alternative would be a well-balanced diet for the pregnant women but yet not every-one can afford it.
“The shortage is really troubling not only to the pregnant women but the nurses, who, by virtue of being care-givers, are extended custodians,” said the president, adding that the government owes suppliers money to the tune of E400 million worth of the essential drugs, with only an undisclosed amount having been paid out. The E400 million debt was also confirmed by the ministry of finance communications officer, Setsabile Dlamini, who shared that government was doing all it could to cover the debt.
Drawn for comment, human rights lawyer, Sabelo Masuku, mentioned that pregnant women and their unborn babies are entitled to the right of life, and government being the duty bearers should provide alternatives to make up for shortage of the essential drugs. “I can only hope that the ministry of health has provided alternatives to make up for the shortage or else this would be an act of gross violation of human rights and unprofessionalism,” said Masuku.