By Hassan Isilow
JOHANNESBURG (AA) - The South African government Tuesday launched a new forum in the capital Pretoria to root out rampant fraud and corruption within the health sector, according to a statement by the presidency.
Health Sector Anti-Corruption Forum, chaired by President Cyril Ramaphosa, comprises multi-government agency stakeholders who will work jointly in identifying areas of cooperation in preventing, detecting and prosecuting those involved in fraud and corruption in the health sector.
South Africa’s public and private health sector are vulnerable to fraud and corruption because of the large and varied numbers of transactions on goods and services that are carried out in the sector, the statement said.
Due to the large transactions, the sector sometimes experiences fraudulent orders, tender irregularities, and fiscal dumping by government departments through non-governmental organizations, bribery, and over-pricing among other risks.
"It is immensely encouraging to have amongst us such a broad representation of stakeholders on what is truly a historic occasion," President Ramaphosa said.
Signing of the terms of agreement of the Health Sector Anti-Corruption Forum was one of the critical steps the country was taking to transform the health care system in South Africa and rid it of the inefficiencies of the past, he said.
"Health care is the third largest item of government expenditure, and yet there is a fundamental disjoint between what we are spending on health care and the health outcomes of our citizens," Ramaphosa said.
In some parts of the country, citizens are forced to make payments to get access to medical treatment either at above the official rate or for services that are meant to be free, said the president.
"In other places, our parents and grandparents are being turned away because doctors and nurses are moonlighting elsewhere during work hours," he added.
The new forum is expected to address some of the problems in the sector.
During the launch of the anti-corruption forum, several stakeholders signed their commitment and support that will lead to the fight against fraud and corruption with in healthcare sector.
The stakeholders include the Special Investigating Unit, National Department of Health, Council for Medical Schemes, and Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation.