Wednesday 2024-06-19




By NONDUDUZO KUNENE | 2020-04-21

GOVERNMENT has acknowledged that the country is faced with the challenge of the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE).

However, Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the National Emergency Task Force Themba Masuku said the shortage cannot be attributed as failure by government, but stated that this was a global challenge.

Masuku was speaking during a press briefing at the cabinet offices in Mbabane yesterday. The deputy premier outlined a number of issues why the country’s healthcare workers do not have enough PPE.  PPE helps prevent the spread of germs in hospitals. This can protect people and health-care workers from infections.

All hospital staff, patients and visitors should use PPE when they would be in contact with blood or other bodily fluids. Since the outbreak of the global coronavirus pandemic, local frontline workers, especially health-care workers, voiced their concerns that there was no PPE that would protect them from contracting the coronavirus.  Currently, the country has two health-care professionals who tested positive to COVID-19.

  The latest figures from Italy indicate that nine percent of COVID-19 patients are healthcare workers and this is because some hospitals do not have enough personal protective equipment (PPE), but in most cases, nurses and doctors are forced to wear masks which are far past their effective use, and in some hospitals in central and southern Italy, staff have no PPE at all.

 Meanwhile, the DPM acknowledged the shortage of PPEs to effectively contain and fight the spread of COVID-19 in the kingdom.   Masuku said the shortage was due to international shortage of supply affecting most countries.

“All countries are battling with procurement even in the countries where these PPE is manufactured,” he said. Masuku added that the safety of the nation as well as health-care workers remained a priority. He said government had intensified efforts to source the much needed protective equipment.  Masuku said government ordered enough quantities to serve health-care workers and the needs of the country at a time when all people across the world were looking for the same equipment.

Local companies approached to manufacture PPE

Due to the fact that countries known for exporting PPE have restricted exportation, government has roped in local companies to produce the products.

Deputy Prime Minister Themba Masuku, when addressing the media on the shortage of PPE, stated that other countries have banished the exportation of PPEs to meet their ever increasing domestic needs.  He said it was for that reason the country, like the rest of the world, continue to experience a shortage of supply. While the Kingdom currently has no capability to manufacture PPE, he said they have appealed to local companies to produce some of this gear, especially face masks.

“A number of companies have already indicated their willingness to produce face masks to meet the domestic need,” he said. The deputy premier said all locally available protective equipment has already been purchased by government and still await more deliveries from the local companies that they have engaged to help source the rest from abroad.  He further appealed to the public to avoid purchasing the surgical masks as they were strictly reserved for health workers. He said members of the public should wear cotton masks.

 He further appealed to all Emaswati to fully comply with the partial lockdown guidelines and heed to health advice to control the spread of the virus.  “Each individual should act responsibly and stay at home except for those working in essential or low risk non-essential businesses as identified and approved by the ministry of commerce, industry and trade. Travelling is allowed for those seeking food or medical supplies,” he said.  Masuku said any irresponsible behaviour by anyone, at any time, would derail the country’s efforts of effectively containing the spread of the virus.

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