5th July 2021
By Sulaiman B. Sowa
Consequent on mounting allegations of bribery in the health sector in Kailahun, the Eastern Region office of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) in Kenema has, engaged and called on health workers at the Kailahun Government Hospital to resist and reject all forms and temptations of bribery in the delivery of health care services.
The engagement took place on the 1st July 2021, at the hall of the hospital in Kailahun Town.
Speaking on the need for healthcare workers to resist all acts of bribery, ACC’s Senior Public Education Officer, Sulaiman B. Sowa, described bribery as a threat to the effective and affordable provision of healthcare services. “This has the tendency to affect many poor and vulnerable citizens who cannot meet the daily demands officials engaged in bribery and extortion,” he said.
Mr. Sowa said that when a healthcare officer solicits or accepts bribe from a patient, the resultant effect breeds mistrust, selective preference and abuse of office, thereby undermining the free healthcare program of the Government.
Mr. Sowa highlighted demands for gifts, sale of free healthcare drugs, asking patients to pay a fee for services that are otherwise tagged to be free, among other acts of bribery and extortion.
He also decried the act of ‘rent seeking’ which is a means by which healthcare workers prey on the unavailability of essential drugs, which they sell to patients at high costs during critical times.
Rent seeking also makes health workers behave in such way that infers that they should be given financial inducement to motivate them to attend to patients. This, he says, renders the purpose of health service as a business other than public service meant to save lives and maximize welfare.
Mr. Sowa concluded by urging the hospital management to update their policies against bribery, prepare a gift register, regularly rotate nurses from one ward to another and make clear signposts within the hospital that discourage acts of bribery. The signposts, he said, should direct members of the public where to report acts of bribery or other issues of concern in the hospital.
Responding to the engagement, District Medical Officer Kailahun, Dr. Desmond Kangbai said, the meeting was an eye-opener to all and revealed the true purpose of knowledge as power to effect change of behavior. He said the hospital was very big and therefore cannot vouch to be everywhere at the same time but expects all health workers to own up to their duties as mandated by their codes of conduct.
Medical Superintendent of the hospital Dr. Francis Lansana said, such engagements should be regular to keep reminding health workers about their duties and the need for them to uphold integrity in the workplace.
Pediatrician Dr. Fodie Juana Kamara said the meeting calls for self-introspection of healthcare workers to use their conscience in serving humanity.