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‘Bribe-seeking nurses under probe’

Local News
Health expert Itai Rusike

GOVERNMENT says it has launched a probe on health workers who are reportedly demanding bribes to activate the quick response (QR) codes on COVID-19 vaccination cards following an article published by NewsDay on Friday which exposed the scam.

This was after scores of citizens wishing to travel out of the country fell victim to unscrupulous health workers who demanded bribes ranging from US$40 to US$100 for them to jump queues to have their vaccination cards activated.

Health ministry spokesperson Donald Mujiri said: “That sums up to corruption. The health workers must not be demanding money to activate the QR codes. The service is offered free of charge. We have launched an investigation on the matter and the culprits will be brought to book.”

Mujiri said to avoid unnecessary inconveniences to travellers, the Health ministry had selected specific health centres for those who produce proof of travel to be given preferential service so that they do not miss their flights.

“We have several centres throughout the country where the services are offered, but that does not mean that when the demand is high, service providers should take advantage of that.”

Information gathered by NewsDay shows that there are only about 50 activation centres at council and public health institutions throughout the country.

Government has been urged to establish more activation centres as demand for the QR codes is rising following relaxation of travel restrictions in most countries across the globe as COVID-19 cases recede.

“The Health and Child Care ministry should also be seen to be implementing the devolution process in the issuance of the QR codes as it has an added advantage of ensuring that services that were previously centralised are now decentralised by taking such services to the people and making them more efficient and easily accessible,” Community Working Group on Health executive director Itai Rusike said.

 Follow Miriam on Twitter @FloMangwaya

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