Catholic Entity in Eswatini “perturbed” by Stockouts of Medicine, Call for “urgent” Action

Logo of Swaziland's Catholic Diocese of Manzini. Credit: Diocese of Manzini

Members of the Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Office (CPLO) in the Kingdom of Eswatini have expressed their concern about persistent shortage of medicine in the health institutions of Africa’s last absolute monarch.

In a paper analyzing the possible effects of medicine stockouts in the country that is also known as Swaziland, CPLO members weigh in on the situation 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 ACI Africa on Thursday, February 8.

The evidence of the Catholic entity that exists to update ecclesiastical authorities and the Catholic communities on parliament issues in Eswatini 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. 

They add that “in the recent months, patients nearly went to the street but were prevented by their conditions.”


CPLO members underscore 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 has far reaching implications and consequences, members of the Liaison office 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 say.

Drug shortage, CPLO members 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 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,” they say.

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“The sustained unavailability of drugs needed to help persons keep chronic conditions under control, be cured of illness, or undergo medical procedures required for their well-being is a setback,” members of the Catholic entity lament.

The emphasize the need to address the challenge, saying, “Urgent, impactful action is required.”

In the four-page paper, CPLO members highlight some of the factors contributing to the shortage of medicine in the country’s health facilities.

“Lengthy and unclear procurement process, frequent changes in key leadership positions within the Ministry of Health with resultant delay in obtaining approval to import medicines into the country” contribute to the shortage of drugs, they say.

Other factors, they say, include “insufficient medicine procurement at the central medical store explained by poor forecasting at regional and national levels and unanticipated increased demand.”


While members of the Catholic entity laud the government for establishing “a ministerial committee and the commissioning of forensic audit as efforts to address the shortage of drugs”, they underscore 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 say.

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 Eswatini’s health facilities, CPLO members emphasize the need for adequate governance structures that will facilitate the realization of proper and efficient coordination of procurement procedures at national level.

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.