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NCCE regional director bemoans corruption in the health service sector  

The northern regional director of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), Alhaji Razak Saani, has stated that the issue of corruption and unprofessionalism in the healthcare service system is a serious matter which needs special attention.

According to him, people who are supposed to offer health services to patients, abandon their responsibility. Professional nurses, he indicated, are expected to demonstrate a certain degree of humanity, special attainment, self-sacrifice and the right attitude in their dealings. Each nurse, he continued, needs to understand the responsibilities and concerns that are integral to the nursing profession.

Alhaji Saani mentioned some of the core values that are expected and appreciated in nurses as responsibility, honesty, integrity, belief in human dignity, patient equality, and the desire to prevent and alleviate suffering.

A nurse’s professionalism, he stressed, is judged based on personal behaviors, appearance, presentation, and so on. Alhaji Saani was speaking at a stakeholder’s engagement meeting prior to the implementation of a two year project dubbed; ‘Not in Our Name: Tackling corruption within the Ghanaian Healthcare System.’

The project aims at strengthening procedures already in place to tackle issues of administrative corruption at the point of use within public health facilities. It is being implemented across 14 districts in six regions by WASOHO, a consortium of three health and education NGOs: West Africa AIDS Foundation, Socio-service-Ghana and Hope for Future Generations.

The 14 districts include Ningo-Pramparm, Ga West, Assin North, Ajumako Enyan Esiam, South Dayi, North Tongu, and Bolgatanga. The rest are Bawku West, Kumbungu, Savelugu Municipal, Karaga, Yendi municipal, Lower Manya and New Juabeng.

In his contribution, Alhaji Saani lamented the neglect of pregnant women at some health facilities while being asked to pay money for no reason. He attributed the issue of nurses making calls whilst attending to patients to a weak monitoring healthcare system in the country, saying stringent measures must be put in place to check the menace.

Corruption in the healthcare sector in the discussion was noted as health providers purchasing their own drugs and selling to patients at a higher cost with the pretense that they are not covered by health insurance, others collecting monies and allowing people to jump queues, people paying bribes to the security men at the emergency units before they can get entry to visit their patients, and before getting a bed on admission, one has to ‘grease’ someone’s palm.

Corruption in the healthcare system usually leads to poor health outcome, lack of access to services, especially for poor, marginalized or other key population groups, poorer service delivery and value for money, patients lose trust in the healthcare system of which the project seeks to address.

The project in the long term intends to increase access to care, with higher patient satisfaction rates, increase provision of basic affordable care to deprived communities, clearer, more efficient channels for reporting corruption, meaning increased successful sanctions and culture of zero tolerance for corruption.

Speaking to Zaa News, the Managing and Evaluation Manager for the West Africa AIDS Foundation, Mrs.Holly Walton explained the aim of the project is to increase awareness of corruption among staff in the healthcare system at all levels, increase the capacity of internal staff monitoring system at the Ghana Health Service (GHS), ensure greater knowledge on the rights of patients among the general public and increase transparency and accountability.

The program was attended by regional health directors, representatives from the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Ghana Integrity Initiative, National Health Insurance Authority and the Center for Active Learning and Integrated Development. It is funded by STAR-Ghana, with support from UKAid, DANIDA and the European Union.

By Lilian Walter

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