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South Africa: Ramaphosa Launches Forum to Tackle Healthcare Corruption

President Cyril Ramaphosa launched the Health Sector Anti-Corruption Forum (HSACF) on Tuesday, targeting corruption in the public and private healthcare sector.

Speaking at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, Ramaphosa said the launch marked an historic day.

“Clearly this forum today is quite historic as far as I’m concerned because, together and collectively, we are going to take real definite steps to curb the corruption that prevails in our country in the health sector.”

The launch comes after the Presidential Health Summit held in 2018, which identified major challenges in the sector.

Recommendations to improve healthcare in the country emerged at the summit, including the establishment of an anti-corruption forum in the sector.

Other recommendations included addressing the supply management of medicines, medical products, equipment and machinery.

This sector was considered to be vulnerable to corruption because of the large volume of goods and services that are transacted… these include fraudulent orders, tender irregularities, fiscal dumping through NGO’s, bribery, over pricing, poor governance, transfer of liabilities to the state and fraudulent qualifications,” Ramaphosa said.

‘Corruption impoverishes people’

He said that political interference also played a role, adding that this would be dealt with.

“It has also been found that political interference in the tendering system contributes to corruption… it is a challenge we have got to address and we are already taking steps to address it – that those who hold political power are the ones who always pull the strings and try to direct the system towards corruption. We will deal with this,” Ramaphosa said.

The launch was one of the critical steps being taken to transform healthcare in South Africa and improve efficiency, Ramaphosa said.

“This initiative and the [health inquiry report released on Monday] are concrete steps that our country should be taking, and will be taking, to reduce wastage, to reduce collusion and to end noncompetitive behavior in the market.”

While healthcare was the third largest government expenditure item, Ramaphosa pointed out that it did not reap the rewards it should, because of corruption in the sector.

“There is a fundamental disconnect between what we are spending on healthcare and the health outcomes that our people are getting.

“In a number of ways, we rank low in global rankings… on healthcare system efficiency owing to, among other things, inefficient resource management, poor institutional accountability, ineffective monitoring and evaluation and also corruption.

“When there is corruption in our healthcare system, when the costs of unauthorised and fruitless and wasteful expenditure balloon, we all suffer.

“Corruption impoverishes people, it violates their constitutional rights to health and it also costs lives because in other instances people literally die,” he said.

‘Better care for all South Africans’

The forum was launched amid the possibility of the National Health Insurance (NHI) which, Ramaphosa said, was an important step to realise this.

“This initiative has become all the more critical as we prepare to implement the most far reaching policy for social transformation this country has seen since 1994, namely the introduction of the National Health Insurance.

“One of the fundamental principles underpinning the NHI is that the funds spent on health in the public, as well as in the private sectors annually, should result in better care and outcome for all South Africans.”

Ramaphosa said the forum should yield benefits directly for the people of South Africa.

“The most important derivative or benefit… that we will get out of this is about ensuring that our people live better lives, that they live healthier for longer, that they can be more productive and that they can emerge from poverty.

“We cannot achieve these objects as long as corruption remains pervasive in the health sector. The agreement being signed today is a product of many months of hard work by all the parties to develop an integrated and coordinated approach to these challenges,” Ramaphosa said.

Source: News24

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