Corruption poses a threat to proper medical care for patients – SA Medical Association

The South African Medical Association (SAMA) is of the view alleged corruption in the provision of medical supplies is deeply unsettling and poses a threat to the provision of proper medical care to patients.

The association said improprieties in medical tenders damaged not only the country’s economy and reputation, but also its ability to care for the sick.

“Over the past few weeks, there have been numerous reports of alleged wrongdoing and corruption. The most recent high-profile case involves the spokesperson to the president [Khusela Diko]. As a professional body representing doctors, we take a strong stand against these purported abuses,” SAMA’s chairperson, Dr Angelique Coetzee, said in a statement on Wednesday.

This after Sunday Independent reported a R125 million personal protective equipment (PPE) contract was allegedly awarded to the amaBhaca king, Madzikane Thandisizwe II Diko.

Khusela and her husband maintain the money was never paid to his company and the contract was never finalised, the Sunday Times previously reported.

The publication also linked Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku’s wife, Loyiso, to Khusela and alleged their close relationship might have played a role in the awarding of the tender to the Royal Bhaca Project.

Khusela has since taken a leave of absence from all her roles in the government, pending investigations into the allegations, News24 reported.

Coetzee said where there was alleged wrongdoing, it expected immediate action to be taken.

“As doctors, we are on the frontline of fighting the coronavirus every day – putting our own and our family’s lives at risk every time we report for work to assist the sick. When medical equipment such as personal protective equipment is the focus of an alleged wrongdoing, we expect immediate and urgent action.

“Unless it is done, and seen to be done, irregularities will continue, and continue to burden an already over-stretched health sector.”

She added following a string of similar incidents such as the scooter debacle in the Eastern Cape, it appeared “there is no political will to deal with corruption”.

“The billions of rand which have allegedly been siphoned off legitimate channels has the effect that doctors and other healthcare workers are treating patients without the proper PPE.

“They have to work without proper equipment to diagnose patients, and the patients themselves have to suffer more in the often pitiful wards of dysfunctional hospitals. We can simply not continue like this, something has to give,” Coetzee said.

SAMA has urged all healthcare workers and administrators, who have evidence of wrongdoing, to come forward and report it.

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