The Public Education Unit of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) office in the Southern Region has in a customized meeting, enlightened members of District Health Management Team, Bo on some of the illegal practices that have the tendency to undermine the delivery of quality health care. The engagement took place on Wednesday 11th October 2023 at the DHMT Conference Hall, Baima Road in Bo.
In his statement, ACC’s Resident Prosecutor, South, Nigel Davies Esq. ruminated on the legal framework which led to the establishment of the ACC over two decades ago. He asserted that in the Commission’s quest to carry out its legitimate responsibility, ACC does not persecute but rather it pursues offenders of the laws. Mr. Davies further said that citizens must not misunderstand the prosecutorial approach of the Commission as a ploy to blemish the good name of individuals, but should be seen as a legitimate avenue to demand for accountability.
Mr. Davies underscored that the Anti-Corruption law has gone through legal reforms overtime in order to make corruption unfashionable by increasing the fines and prison term, introducing mandatory restitution for funds misappropriated, offence for academic malpractices and money recovered through out of court settlement now attracting an interest of not less than ten percent (10%). He affirmed ACC’s commitment to working with public sector institutions to ensuring that Sierra Leoneans interest is prioritized.
Speaking at the engagement, ACC’s Senior Public Education Officer, Abdulai Saccoh acknowledged the challenges the health sector is confronted with but advised health workers not to be tempted to compromise their integrity. Saccoh asserted that despite the huge resources the health sector continues to attract, the desired objectives would be farfetched if the sector is inundated with corrupt practices. He recognized that corruption has dire consequences on access, quality, equity, efficiency and efficacy of health services and it is an obvious obstacle to the attainment of Sustainable Development Goal 3.
Saccoh furthered that the diversion of public and donor funds for personal use, abuse of discretionary power, over invoicing, short payment of participants at trainings and other workshops and extortion of money for free services within the health sector are not only unlawful practices but can trigger ACC’s investigation. Hecalled on the participants to expose corrupt activities, keep the sector sane, transparent and accountable, stop dishonest practices and ensure public sector employees act in the public interest.
The District Medical Officer (DMO) Bo, Dr. Amara Stevens Ngegbai lauded ACC’s public education drive and described it as an appropriate intervention to prevent corruption in public sector institutions. Dr. Ngegbai noted that the District Health Management Team is charged with the responsibility to supervise and monitor health facilities as well as to collaborate with partners to promote quality health care service delivery in the District. DMO called on ACC to replicate similar engagement to Bo Government Hospital and the In-Charges of the various Peripheral Health Units during their monthly update meeting. He called on his colleagues to heed to ACC messages as it will guide them in their operations.
ACC’s Public Education Officer, David Garrick said the engagement was a deliberate attempt to interface with health workers in order to draw their attention to some of the unlawful practices that are of concern to the ACC and to promote professional ethics and integrity values in public life.
Garrick urged them to continue to do the right thing even without supervision emphasizing, the significance of upholding integrity, transparency and probity.
Questions-and-answers session formed part of the engagement.