Photograph — The Daily Beast

On Tuesday, the South African government launched a new forum aimed at tackling fraud and corruption in the country’s health sector.

The conference, which is titled the Health Sector Anti-Corruption Forum (HSACF), is expected to address the growing rate of graft practices in the public and private healthcare space.

The forum launch comes a few months after the 2018 Presidential Health Summit identified some of the major challenges affecting the country. President Cyril Ramaphosa is convinced that the initiative is a good step towards curbing misappropriations in healthcare.

“Clearly this forum today is quite historic as far as I’m concerned because, together and collectively, we are going to take real definite steps to curb the corruption that prevails in our country in the health sector,” Ramaphosa said.

Over time, South Africa’s health industry has been discovered to be faced with issues such as fraudulent orders, irregularities, and fiscal dumping through Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs), bribery and poor governance.

Ramaphosa also pointed out that political interference plays a role in the ailing sector, adding that the HSACF will be looking into it.

“It has also been found that political interference in the tendering system contributes to corruption… it is a challenge we have got to address and we are already taking steps to address it,” the President said.

According to the leader, who was elected into office earlier this year, those who hold political power are the ones who always pull the strings and try to direct the health system towards corruption. “We will deal with this,” he added.

No doubt, all of these issues call for urgent measures. Nevertheless, corruption represents the biggest problem the country is facing in its health sector.

Healthcare is the third-largest government expenditure item, but according to the government, the country is not getting expected results which means funds allocated to the sector are most likely not expended in the right channels.

A report by Biz Community notes that another problem facing the South African healthcare sector is that the country is extremely fragmented with different role players being more adversarial than collaborative.

In the Southern African country, private and public health systems exist differently.  While the public system which serves a greater populace is mostly underfunded and understaffed. On the other hand, the private sector has better practitioners and resources but its services are only affordable to 20 percent of the entire population.

According to the South African Society of Anaesthesiologists (SASA), the parallel act of these two players is causing great constraints in the industry.

“Collaboration, effectiveness and transformation between government, medical schemes, healthcare organizations and healthcare practitioners is what is required to take South Africa’s healthcare system forward,” said Natalie Zimmerman, SASA Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

Proffering anti-corruption measures, partnerships and other collaborative projects could help to propel transformative health solutions in the country. However, other recommendations include addressing the supply management of medicines, medical products, equipment and machinery.

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