BY Phyllis Mbanje
Health minister Obadiah Moyo is taking the heat from an audit report which exposed massive corruption at Chitungwiza Central Hospital during his term at the helm of the institution.
But Moyo yesterday dismissed the report, dated October 24, 2017 and addressed to the then Health secretary Gerald Gwinji, claiming its authors had “ulterior motives”.
Of concern in the report done at the behest of Gwinji, was the fact that the hospital had lost a lot of revenue due through opaque public private partnerships (PPPs) contracts.
“Revenue collected by the hospital declined from a monthly average of $315 740 in 2013 to $75 090 in 2017. As a result, the hospital was failing to pay its suppliers of goods and services, thus compromising service delivery,” the report read.
The report said the hospital had entered into six PPP contracts from 2013 for provision of, pharmacy, radiology, funeral pallor, hospital mortuary, catering, pathology laboratory and outsourcing of a coffee shop and kiosk.
But a review of the contract documents revealed that the hospital executive lacked legal advice in the formulation of the agreements.
The auditors noted that the hospital surrendered its premises, equipment, staff and entire operations to the PPPs in return for a percentage of the profit generated from provision of services to patients. This posed a risk of improper safeguarding of assets and compromise service delivery.
Another example of corrupt activities included a contract between the hospital and BIG Diagnostics (Pvt) Ltd which allowed the partner to evaluate the hospital equipment in radiology, but there was no provision for involvement of technical personnel from the hospital or Ministry of Health.
“This posed the risk of unfavourable and biased evaluation against the hospital. The partners evaluation concluded that there was no guarantee for the continued use of the hospital equipment,” the auditors noted.
Another issue of concern was the conversion of the hospital mortuary into a funeral parlour, resulting in storage charges being levied for dead bodies contrary to the ministry’s standard policy that provides the services for free.
As part of their recommendations, the auditors said the ministry should institute a board of investigation to evaluate the establishment and operation of the PPPs at the institution.
However, Moyo rubbished the report, saying the partnerships were beneficial and other public hospitals were actually looking into similar arrangements.
Speaking during a Health Professions Authority annual congress in Harare on Wednesday, he said those behind the leaked report had ulterior motives.
Moyo has been under pressure from the restive doctors who are agitating for his resignation blaming him for running down the country’s health system.