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NGO launches initiative to fight corruption in health sector

The Global Media Foundation (GLOMEF), a human rights media advocacy organisation has raised concerns about the ever increasing corruption in Ghana’s health sector.

Corruption, according to GLOMEF, reduces access to care; undermines equity in access; increases financial burden on patients as well as reduces access to and provision of services.

A 2010 report by the World Bank titled “Quiet Corruption” has revealed that 95 per cent of resources allocated to the health sector in Ghana were diverted into the pockets of individuals. Ghana is second to Chad in terms of the most corrupt when it comes to managing resources in the health sector in Africa.

“Quiet Corruption” is an annual Africa Development Indicators report that revealed that the problem of corruption goes beyond bribes and gifts and affects health, education, and agriculture sectors on the continent.

The 2010 report painted a gloomy picture about Ghana’s health sector alleging that officials are failing to deliver government goods and services to the ordinary people they are aimed at. (Gardener, 2012)

In order to address the corruption challenge in the health sector, GLOMEF in collaboration with its allies on 7th April 2021 as part of activities to mark this year’s World Health Day will launch its new accountability project dubbed: Ghana Health Sector Accountability Strengthening Project (GHSASP).

The 50,000 dollars initiative is aimed at enhancing and strengthening transparency and accountability in the health sector in order to improve patient safety, client satisfaction and participation of patients and the community in quality governance structure at all levels.

The districts to benefit from the three-year project are Ada West and Ada East Districts, in the Greater Accra region, Sunyani West Municipality and Sunyani Municipality in the Bono region as well as Asutifi North District and Tano North Municipality in the Ahafo region.

Addressing the media in Accra, the Founder/CEO of Global Media Foundation, Mr. Raphael Godlove Ahenu said the lack of transparency and accountability in the health sector is negatively affecting access and quality health care delivery in Ghana.

He said despite the increasing use of social accountability, there is still limited evidence on how it has been used in the health sector in Ghana

Corruption denies access to quality services for the poor and marginalized, weakens the effective distribution of wealth and income, and has the potential of magnifying child mortality in society.

It also increases the cost of goods and services and in the absence of an effective social protection mechanism, puts the poor and marginalized in society at a great disadvantage.

The project, Mr Ahenu will train citizen investigative journalists at the district levels to track and monitor health care delivery in the project districts.

Corruption affects health outcomes by reducing government funding available for health services. Private companies are reluctant to invest in the country’s health sector because of perception of lack of transparency and accountability in the health sector which lowers overall economic growth.

The CEO observed that despite remarkable progress made in some areas of the health sector in Ghana in the last few decades, the nation is not on track in achieving most of the health-related SDG targets by 2030 due to corruption.

The SDG3 addresses all major health priorities, including reproductive, maternal and child health; communicable, non-communicable and environmental diseases; universal health coverage; and access for all to safe, effective, quality and affordable medicines and vaccines.

He said most of the corruption practiced in the health sector which is termed as quiet corruption includes health professionals including doctors are late to work or sometimes direct patients to other health facilities they work in so as to make money for themselves.

Some also absent themselves from these public services and make way to other facilities at the detriment of patients who may have to queue up in these public health facilities hoping to see these doctors.

Our survey in the beneficiary districts has revealed some form of absenteeism among health professionals including even some of the district health directors in some of the districts.

This, according to him, calls for frantic effort to help reduce the negative effect of corruption on access to quality health care services.

Source: Edmund Gyebi (modernghana.com)

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