Mbabane: The Ministry of Health has been allocated E 2.8 billion from the national budget for the year 2021/2022, which translates to 11.5 percent of the total national budget.
This is according to the Budget Speech that was delivered by the Minister of Finance Neal Rijkenberg at the August house, on Friday, February 26, 2021.
“Government has allocated E2.8 billion to the Ministry of Health, which is 11.5 percent of the total Government budget, to support the implementation of its programmes and interventions,” said Rijkenberg.
This year’s budget allocated to the Ministry of Health indicated an increase compared to the previous year’s budget which was E 2.7 billion which translated to a 10.5 percent of the overall national budget.
The Finance Minister said, E200 million has been allocated to ensure that eMaswati will benefit from the coronavirus vaccines that are being developed around the globe by various researchers and pharmaceutical companies.
Minister Rijkenberg said the pandemic has created a multitude of challenges in our progress towards universal health coverage as outlined in the National Health Sector Strategic Plan 2019-2023.
The first case of coronavirus in Eswatini was identified on the 14th of March 2020 and subsequent to that, the partial lockdown was implemented. The Lubombo Referral Hospital was designated as a coronavirus site for moderate to severe including critical cases and Mavuso Trade Centre for mild and asymptomatic cases. Recently, Covid treatments were expanded to other health facilities and clinics.
He went on to say the health workers are working tirelessly and fearlessly to assist those who are infected with the virus.
“I urge all of us to continue praying for them as they execute their duties. Let us keep in our minds these words from scripture:
The LORD is my light and my salvation whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident’’ – Psalm 27: 1-3.
The Minister said it was commendable, that the Kingdom of Eswatini has been recognized for being one of only two countries in the world to have achieved the UNAIDS 95-95-95 targets, meaning 95 percent of people living with HIV are aware of their HIV status, 95 percent of those who are aware of their HIV+ status are on ART and 95 percent of those on ART are virally suppressed. Government, together with our health partners have continued to support HIV/AIDS programmes and expanded interventions in light of the pandemic.
“In the last year we have been able to increase access to services while ensuring that patients are protected from the risks of coronavirus at health facilities or while en route to health facilities.”
He said Eswatini continues to be severely burdened by the dual TB-HIV epidemic placing the country among the highest TB/HIV burden countries in the world.
He revealed that the TB incidence rate is currently estimated at 441 per 100,000 population and TB-related mortality (excluding HIV) is at approximately 12 per 100,000 population and 45 per 100,000 population for TB/HIV co-infected patients.
To respond to such a challenge, Government has continued to intensify case finding through systematic TB screening in all health facilities and communities. TB case detection is over 65 percent and TB Treatment Success rate is at 85 percent.
On the Malaria outbreak the Minister said Government continues to implement interventions aimed at eliminating malaria in the Kingdom.
He touted His Majesty the King who established the Eswatini Malaria Elimination Fund. Currently, the percentage of confirmed malaria cases treated as per the guidelines stands at 100 percent.
Government will focus on strengthening the provision of Personal Protective Equipment; Intensive Care Units (ICU) and renal services to severely affected patients, elderly, people with complicated Non-Communicable Diseases, and other vulnerable groups such as those living with HIV and AIDS.
“We will also strengthen the testing capacity of the country’s public health laboratories by providing reagents and testing kits for the pandemic.”
He promised that Government will also address key issues related to essential medicines stock-outs and vaccines with the aim of improving commodity security as well.