Corruption Watch says it has learned that officials and employees of various South African hospitals and clinics mismanage funds and use state resources to benefit themselves.
The anti-graft, the non-profit organisation released its report – X-Ray: The critical state of the health sector in SA – on Wednesday.
The report highlights almost 700 whistleblower accounts received since early 2012 until the end of 2019.
Corruption Watch researcher Melusi Ncala, who is also the author of the report, said the hundreds of cases the organisation received illustrated a significant problem plaguing the health sector in South Africa, with Gauteng leading with the number of corruption cases.
“Nationally, in the 670 cases of corruption in the health sector, about 52% point a finger at provincial governments, while about 40% level allegations at national government”.
Gauteng leads with 39% of corruption cases, followed by KwaZulu-Natal at 16%, the Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga at 8% respectively.
“The cases are troubling considering that our most vulnerable – the elderly, women and children – are the ones feeling the brunt of a shortage of medication, malfunctioning equipment, or the pressure to exchange undisclosed amounts of cash for goods or services,” he said.
He stated that, according to the reports they received, money allocated by the National Treasury for particular projects and programmes was “squandered or deceptively redirected to other interests”.
This also includes, doctors allegedly making use of state-funded medical equipment and medication in their own practices at the cost of the state’s time and officials illegally using state vehicles, fuel and accommodation for themselves, friends, and family members.
“The outcome of such negligent and corrupt acts is a shortage of medication, equipment that is lost or damaged, and the state paying exorbitant amounts of money to fund the lifestyles of officials”.
He also added: “The criminals occupying the halls, offices, wards and dispensaries of our health centres are compounding the problems we face by siphoning funds from a kitty that is running dry and by thieving from depots that are short on medical supplies.
“At the end of it all, almost 50 million people’s constitutional right to life amounts to nought. The question arising from this report is, therefore, when is it your turn to fall victim – or your turn to ring the alarm on corruption?”
The organisation also looked into employment corruption which saw the Northern Cape leading in the number of these cases at 55%, followed by Mpumalanga at 51%, and KwaZulu-Natal at 36%.
This type of corruption includes allegations of nepotism, claiming time for work not done and favouritism.
The report also highlights corruption in the awarding of tenders and that preferential treatment is given to supplies and as a result, bribes are paid to officials after contracts are awarded.