Misuse of govt resources rife in health sector: Report

There is rampant misuse of government resources in public health institutions, amid concerns about abuse of office and favouritism, according to a recent corruption research carried out by a local non-governmental organisation Zimbabwe Women Against Corruption Trust (ZWACT).

The damning report was unveiled concurrently with the commemorations of the International Anti-Corruption Day on Friday.

Focus group discussions, which make the core of the research, were conducted at community level in Nyanga (Manicaland province), Zhombe and Kwekwe (Midlands province) as well as Chitungwiza and Epworth (Harare Metropolitan province).

“Corruption in the health sector takes many forms and the most common forms are abuse of office (24%) followed by favouritism (20%) in which health personnel favour their relatives, friends and compatriots,” reads the report.

“Misuse of government resources (14%), bribery (20%), tribalism/nepotism (11%) and sextortion (7%) are other forms of corruption.”

According to a focus group discussion held in Nyanga, misuse of government resources and favouritism were the order of the day.

“In Nyanga, it is alleged that nurses, security guards and doctors favour their relatives and friends who get treated without queuing for services,” reads the report.

“Ambulance drivers were accused of driving ambulances to beer halls as they imbibe alcohol and carry firewood for their families.

“In addition, cases of discrimination against people living with albinism were reported.”

The report also revealed that there were a few doctors manning public clinics.

“The major challenge is the availability of doctors,” reads the report.

“In most of the visits (64%) doctors were not available, which forced patients to queue for long hours waiting to be served.

“It was observed that some of these doctors will be attending patients at their private establishments.

“In most cases, patients had to wait for days to see a doctor.”

The research said specific services sought by women and girls seeking sexual and reproductive health rights and maternal health care services in public health institutions include maternity services (23%), and contraceptives (28%).

ZWACT director Sandra Matendere said the research was carried out after the realisation that there was need to study the prevalence and impact of corruption in the health care sector targeting women and girls seeking sexual and reproductive health rights as well as maternal health care services in public health institutions.

“ZWACT noted with great concern the rise in systemic corruption in the health sector considering how it is hindering women's access to sexual and reproductive health services including maternal care in public health institutions,” Matendere said.

“As an organisation aimed at strengthening women's participation in anti-corruption and governance initiatives, we primarily engage in evidence-based advocacy complemented by community-centred approaches to fight corruption, thus bottom up initiatives.

“While there have been debates on how corruption is negatively impacting women's access to maternal health, we noted limited data for reference.

“Having this in mind, ZWACT was motivated to carry out this research in-order to have an informed position on how corruption negatively affects women's access to basic health services such as maternal care.

“We intend to influence action from policy makers and relevant authorities regarding the raised concerns.”

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