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The Eastern Region office of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) in Kenema has engaged staff and management of Government hospital Panguma about bribery and its cost on the health care sector. The engagement took place at the Government Hospital in Panguma, Lower Bambara Chiefdom, on the 24th November, 2021.

Speaking on bribery and its cost on the health sector, ACC’s Senior Public Education Officer Sulaiman B. Sowa defined bribery as the offering, soliciting or receiving anything of value with the intention of inducing a person to act, abstain from acting, or to reward a person for having acted on a particular matter. He said that bribery may be in the form of cash, gift and other things of monetary value, noting that its impact on the health sector undermines Government’s ability to provide proper healthcare for its citizens.

Mr. Sowa referenced the Afrobarometer 2020 report which indicated that bribery in the health sector stands at 53%. Bribery, he said, included soliciting monies from pregnant women to seek medical services and extorting monies from patients for basic items such as gloves, free healthcare drugs, among others.

Mr. Sowa intimated staff of the hospital in Panguma that the millions of Leones paid as bribe could be huge revenue to increase salaries for healthcare workers and the provision of medicines and equipment needed to make the health system functional for all. “Anytime a health worker takes a bribe, someone was paying the cost thereby rendering the health system ineffective and dysfunctional,” he said.

He concluded by saying that whilst no report of bribery has been made against the hospital in Panguma, the engagement was a public education drive to keep health workers reminded about the prevailing issues affecting healthcare delivery and to further commit them to the fight against corruption. He referenced the recent memorandum of understanding signed between the Commission and the Ministry of Health and Sanitation which is geared towards strengthening collaboration between the two institutions in order to fight against corruption in healthcare delivery.

Responding to the anti-corruption messages, Medical Superintendent of the Panguma Government Hospital, Dr. Abu Minah, described the engagement as timely and appropriate to keep staff at the hospital on their toes in respect of healthcare service delivery. He continued that he abhorred all forms of corruption particularly bribery, which he noted, undermines the credibility and confidence reposed in health workers. He acknowledged the challenges in the health sector but warned that they should not be used as a justification for anyone to indulge in corruption as the hospital administration has a zero tolerance policy to bribery and other forms of corruption.

A question and answer session and the distribution of Information Education and Communication materials climaxed the engagement.