Sarah Opendi, Ugandan State Minister of Health for General Duties went undercover to catch corrupt health workers in the country. She visited Naguru hospital on a motorcycle, dressed in a hijab.
There, a nurse told her to pay 5,000 shillings to take a blood sugar test. The minister said she had heard health workers were demanding a bribe to carry out free treatment. She said: “I received many complaints that the staff at the hospital was extorting money from patients.”
After paying, the minister called policemen to arrest the health workers who solicited for a bribe from her.
The initiative of the minister has been much relayed on the social networks. While many are happy with such action, many are questioning its effectiveness.
Reports of Transparency International, rank Uganda among the most corrupt countries in the world. On 151st position over 176, and among the most affected areas is the health sector. In 2012, a Ugandan report estimated that the country’s health services were the most corrupt in East Africa. A corruption still ravaging and causing many complaints.
“Many Ugandans must first resort to corruption before they can see a doctor,” says ActionAid in one of its pamphlets.
Apart from these direct bribes, the various reports of the government inspection departments note a corruption on a larger scale. Stores of medicines allocated to public hospitals are sold at high prices in private clinics; repairing works are paid but poorly carried out, etc.
In its latest report, the government inspection services recommended an increase in the number of controls in hospitals to combat this phenomenon.
This recalls the case of Rwanda, where Pascal Nyamurinda, Mayor of the city of Kigali himself became a passenger to realize the calvary confronted by the public transport users in the city.
It would also be fruitful in the field of construction permits delivery in the cities of Rwanda, the tender awarding processes, and in other areas such as teaching staff entry. Such scenarios would lead to good results.
Min Opendi should serve an example in Uganda, in the region and on the continent. Such initiatives should be more, to ban these enemies of African development. But one would wonder what is missing, between the motorcycle and the sail, but only the initiative and the person maybe.
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Jean Baptiste Karegeya
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