Death of Swaziland Newspaper Editor Puts Spotlight On Kingdom’s Health Crisis

Thulani-ThwalaThulani Thwala the editor of the Swazi Observer died in hospital after collapsing in a toilet. When he was taken to a public hospital there were no doctors immediately available to treat him.

The Times of Swaziland reported on Friday (9 November 2018) that paramedics took him to Mbabane Government Hospital.

It reported, ‘However, when they arrived at the hospital later on the night, he said they found that there were no doctors.

‘Attempts were made to call doctors and one of them responded promptly.’

Thwala was unconscious and the doctor ordered that he should be rushed to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

A family member told the Times, ‘However, the ICU was full and unfortunately, he died while being taken to another ward to receive further treatment.’

Thwala, aged 45, had been a journalist in Swaziland / Eswatini for 23 years and worked in senior positions on both of the kingdom’s daily newspapers.

Health services in Swaziland are in crisis and in August 2018 the Times of Swaziland reported, ‘If you are in a critical condition and want help, you will not get it at the Mbabane Government Hospital. This is due to the shortage of vital drugs and working equipment, which could result in the death of some of the patients.’

Nurses at the time were picketing health facilities to draw attention to drug and staff shortages caused by the government-induced financial crisis.

The Times reported the Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) unit at the hospital had also run out of Unigold Testing Kits, which are used to confirm an HIV positive status. Also, more than 10 drugs were not available at the hospital.

The Times reported, ‘All this is happening at a time when government is facing serious financial challenges. It was established from sources that the crisis within the health sector was due to the financial catastrophe faced by government.’

The Times reported ‘”It’s a serious matter. Patients will die if these issues are not addressed,” some of the nurses said.’

The Swazi Observer reported in August 2018, ‘The shortage of common drugs are hitting even other government health institutions across the country, including Mankayane, Dvokolwako, Pigg’s Peak Hospitals and other clinics, putting the health of patients at risk.’