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Ramaphosa on corruption in health care: 'It's not a victimless crime, it costs lives'

Cyril Ramaphosa
Cyril Ramaphosa
Image: Supplied

President Cyril Ramaphosa says corruption in the health system is not a “victimless crime, it costs lives”.

Speaking at the health sector anti-corruption forum launch in Tshwane on Monday, he said corruption affected poor people the most.

“When there is corruption in our health-care system, when the costs of unauthorised, fruitless and wasteful expenditure balloons, we all suffer.

“Corruption in the health system is not a victimless crime. It targets the poorest and most vulnerable in our society,” said Ramaphosa.

The launch of the forum comes after the signing of the Presidential Health Summit 2018 Compact, which was commissioned to identify the challenges in the health sector and to work together to reform the health-care system.

“This sector was considered to be vulnerable to corruption because of the large volume of goods and services transacted.

“These include fraudulent orders, tender irregularities, fiscal dumping through NGOs, bribery, over-pricing, poor governance, transfer of liabilities to the state, and fraudulent qualifications,” said Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa said political interference also contributed to corruption and that nothing could be achieved “as long as corruption remains pervasive across the health sector”.

“It pained me, as it should every citizen of this country, to hear how this most fundamental of rights, of access to health-care services, has been impacted by the stench of corruption.

“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,” he said.

Speaking on the controversial National Health Insurance (NHI) fund, Ramaphosa it was critical to prepare to secure it even before it starts transacting.

“This initiative has become all the more critical as we prepare to implement the most far-reaching policy for social transformation this country has seen since 1994, namely the National Health Insurance.

“One of the fundamental principles underpinning the NHI is that the funds spent on health in the public and private sectors annually should result in better care and outcome for all South Africans,” he said.

According to Ramaphosa, it's aimed at ensuring that the use of health services does not result in financial hardship for individuals and their families.

He said the it was intended to prevent “undesirable, unethical and unlawful practices”.

“If corruption in the health-care system is not addressed decisively, it will undermine the government efforts to ensure universal access to quality health care.

“We must ensure that the pool of funds that is earmarked to ensure universal access to quality health care is not wiped out through fraud and corruption,” said Ramaphosa.

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