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Medical drugs shortage probe report expected next week

By Ntombi Mhlongo

The report on the causes of medical drugs shortage in the country initiated by the Ministry of Finance is expected to be finally tabled together with the Budget Speech expected next week.

That is if the words of Minister of Finance, Neal Rijkenberg are anything to go by. During the recent Cabinet Retreat media briefing, a question was posed to Prime Minister Cleopas Dlamini on what had happened to the report since he had stated late last year that it had been completed.

The PM advised that the minister should address the issue since the probe fell under his ministry. In response, Rijkenberg said, “It is true that the report was completed in November last year. The challenge was that Parliament then went on recess which delayed its tabling,” the minister said.

He gave assurance that his ministry presented the report to Cabinet and that the latter approved it.

“When I present the Budget Speech in Parliament I will make sure that the report is part of it,” Rijkenberg assured.

The probe was carried out by Auditor General Timothy Matsebula’s Office and it ascertained the causes of the shortage of medical drugs and other related issues including the procurement involved. What prompted the AG’s investigation was the shortage of medical supplies and drugs, which had been a constant challenge in the public health sector in the kingdom over the years.

This challenge continued despite interventions by the Ministry of Health to strengthen its stock controls. This issue has seen health practitioners petitioning the government in various instances and they raised concerns and outlined that, among other things, they were now issuing prescription letters instead of affording the citizenry adequate care, as per their oath of service.

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