Swaziland (eSwatini) is short of personal protective equipment (PPE) for front-line health workers during the coronavirus crisis because suppliers have doubled their prices, the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) said.
Once a tender for equipment had been agreed suppliers asked for prices to be increased and often more than doubled.
NDMA Procurement Officer Phesheya Dlamini told the eSwatini Observer, 'Within a week of award, the prices had increased a hundredfold [doubled] to an extent that three companies came back to us requesting a price increase of over 100 per cent of the quoted price.
'For instance, the supplier of gowns had initially said he would supply us the gowns at E197 each. He, however, came back and requested to at least supply at a revised price of not less than E400. The only supplier that did not have a problem was the one who had quoted E1,300. Similarly the company that was to supply gumboots ended up failing to do so because of the price hike.'
The Director of Health Services Dr Vusi Magagula said suppliers were struggling to deliver goods on time and some coronavirus (COVID-19) supplies were not available as countries rushed for them due to the pressing demand.
Doctors, nurses and other health workers have had to treat coronavirus patients without correct PPE during the continuing pandemic. On 22 May 2020, Minister of Health Lizzie Nkosi said 33 health workers had contracted the virus in Swaziland.
She added, 'This suggests that in this fight health workers are not spared from this pandemic as they could [be] gripped by anxiety and fears.'
Swazi Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini called frontline health workers 'our frontline soldiers'. He said, 'In this war against the pandemic that has been plaguing the globe healthcare workers are in the firing end. They are the ones who are bravely protecting us against [the] deadly invisible enemy.'
Separately, voluntary workers in the community were told they should strip off their clothes and wash them outside their homes after each day's work to avoid taking coronavirus into their homes.
Participants at a workshop in the National Tuberculosis Control Programme (NTCP) were told this was because PPE was not available.