A coalition of Civil Society Organizations (CSO’s) on Tuesday launched a report on Petty Corruption in Public Healthcare Delivery in the Northern, Upper West and Upper East Regions.
The report, highlighted some petty corrupt practices and acts among the patients and health care providers such as informal payments, extortions, embezzlements and favouritism among others, which had a direct impact on the poor by denying them access to health care services.
The coalition aims at convening and coordinating anti-corruption campaign activities in the three Northern Regions.
The coalition is led by the Community Development Alliance (CDA) Ghana in collaboration with Northern Sector Action on Awareness Creation (NORSAAC) and Rural Initiatives for Self-Employment, Ghana (RISE-GHANA).
The report was also supported with resources from UK Department for International Development (DFID) through its Strengthening Action Against Corruption (STAAC).
Mr Kanton Salifu Issifu, the Executive Director of the CDA Ghana said the coalition’s research team systematically sampled and collected discrete data from a total of 834 individual patients as well as 201 healthcare professionals across 24 Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Public Healthcare Facilities in the three regions.
He said the analysis of the data showed clearly the wide spread systematic normalization of various acts of petty corruption across the entire spectrum of public healthcare delivery in Northern Ghana.
Mr Issifu said the research findings were validated through regional stakeholder’s engagement workshops held during the first and second weeks of January 2019, where Directors and Managers of the public healthcare facilities in the Northern, Upper West and Upper East regions were given an opportunity to appraise and validate the findings.
He said most of the Regional Level Health sector stakeholders largely agreed with the research findings but were quick to blame some of the findings on prolonged delays in National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) reimbursements to health facilities for services rendered.
Mr Mohammed Hashim Abdallah, the District Chief Executive of Mion who launched the report on behalf of the Northern Regional Minister commended the CSO’s for their efforts in the findings and called on all the stakeholders to take measures in addressing some of the key issues identified in the report to help enhance effective and efficient healthcare delivery in the country.
In a presentation, Dr Samuel Dery, the Lead Researcher said the findings were based on the patients and healthcare providers’ knowledge on corruption, their perception on corruption, and personal experiences with corruption.
He said more than 75 per cent of all patients and 79 per cent of healthcare workers knew what corruption practice was and identified informal payments, extortion, embezzlement and favouritism by public officials as acts of corruption as well as more than 76 per cent of both the patients and healthcare providers knew that receiving informal payments, stealing medical supplies, charging fees higher than the official rate, absenteeism among others were all acts of corruption.
Dr Dery said 97 per cent of patients and healthcare workers perceived that corruption was widespread within the health care delivery system and over 60 per cent accepted corruption practices as normal in the delivery of health services.
He said payment without being issued receipts (unofficial/informal payment) was, however, the most prevalent experience of patients across all the three regions with 58.6 per cent of patients experiencing it.
Dr Dery said the report, however, recommended that the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service (GHS) together with the decentralized Regional and District Health Administrations should stop all forms of informal payments across various units of public healthcare delivery in the Northern, Upper West and Upper East Regions.
It also recommended for the establishment and operationalization of a robust patients’ complaints unit with strong disciplinary codes that allows for speedy investigations and severe sanctions of offenders in the public health facilities.