Thursday 2019-08-22

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NURSES THREATEN TO RELEASE PSYCH PATIENTS

By Bongani Dlamini | 2019-06-17

As the country’s health system wiggles, nurses at the National Psychiatric Centre have issued a second intent to release psychotic patients due to lack of medication.

This is the second occurrence in a year, where the nurses have threatened to release the institution’s patients due to lack of medication.

In the first instance, they threatened to do so when petitioning the ministry of public service for a cost-of-living-adjustment (CoLA) and lack of medication.

The National Psychiatric Centre is located at Two-Sticks Township which is about four kilometres away from the Manzini Central Business District (CBD).

Some of the nurses who preferred anonymity conveyed that the situation at the institution was appalling in that the patients no longer received the amount of medication that they described as ‘calming’.

The health practitioners said the shortage of medication was an ongoing issue but was worse this time around. They said in the past, when one drug was out of stock an alternative prescription would be availed.

The nurses said the medication predicament resulted to violence within the institution which was dangerous to them as health practitioners as well as to other patients.

 “The wards have become battle rings because the patients are fighting more than usual since there are those who need to be kept in check through medication. It’s hard for us because our patients can’t reason due to their ailment,” said one nurse.

Evident to this, another nurse said the pharmacy department of the hospital was of late prescribing medication for those who had sustained injuries during the fights.

Prolonged absence of the necessary medication, according to the nurses, would result to worse results of the prevailing fights among the patients.

 shortage

Conversely, the Raleigh Fitkin Memorial (RFM) Hospital is not sparred from the drug shortage that has hit most of the country’s health facilities.

According to the institution’s medical practitioners, the hospital was part of the national public health network and just like other national health centres; it received its medical stock from the Central Medical Stores.

The hospital is said to have only paracetamol as a pain killer. Patients who needed stronger pain relievers are said to be forced by the situation to purchase them at pharmacies around town.

Also, those that had fractured limbs were only bandaged and informed to return at later date or alternatively take their medication as the cast-formulating chemical was out of stock.

When sought for comment, RFM’s Senior Medical Officer Mbuso Sihlongonyane confirmed that there were challenges in many public health centres including their institution.

Although he did not have the list of medication that was out of stock, he said most was not available but alternatives were.

The Director of health Dr Vusi Magagula, when called for comment, requested that he be given some time to enquire from the psychiatric hospital about the medication out of stock. 

When he was called again yesterday, he said, through a text message, that he was in a meeting.

The Principal Secretary for the Ministry of Health Dr Simon Zwane could not be reached for comment as his phone rang unanswered.

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