Corruption in Africa’s Health sector: Where is the Aid Money Really Going?

Corruption in the health sector can mean the difference between life and death. Poor people are worst affected. Medical staff can charge unofficial fees to attend to patients. They may demand bribes for medication which should be free. Or they may let patients who bribe them queue-jump. Corruption also costs lives when fake or adulterated medications are sold to health services.

Without proper checks from regulators, public health funds can easily disappear. World Bank surveys show that in some countries, up to 80 per cent of non-salary health funds never reach local facilities. Ministers and hospital administrators can siphon millions of dollars from health budgets. Or they can accept bribes. This distorts policy and denies people hospitals, medicines and qualified staff. Stolen funds also hamper efforts to beat major health challenges, such as malaria and HIV/AIDS.


The matter of healthcare is an important issue that plagues both developing, as well as developed countries. The causes of healthcare problems are different depending upon the region. In most African countries, lack of funding has caused the healthcare system to be ineffective. However, if millions of dollars of aid are given to countries each year for healthcare development alone, how are these issues still present?

Corruption is a serious problem in most governmental institutions for many African countries, especially in the healthcare department. The World Bank created the term “quiet corruption” in 2010 to explain why healthcare systems are failing and said it was a major reason why African countries cannot succeed in fully developing. [1] Hospitals are not receiving the funding they should be, medical deliveries are not being made, and healthcare workers are not being paid. These are some of the real reasons why healthcare in Africa is at such a low quality. It is a misconception that many people do not go to the doctor when they are sick or do not have access to a hospital. Although this may be the problem in some cases, in others, people know that they will not be able to receive the healthcare they deserve because of the presence of corruption in the facilities. “People stop looking for health because they know they won’t get it.” Africans know that once they get to the hospital or clinic, they will have to pay out of pocket for the services rendered, when in reality there was aid money given to the country for this specific cause. Thousands of deaths could be prevented if these people were able to access the type of healthcare donors intend on providing.

The lack of accountability and absence of controls on medical substances can be named as the root of the corruption. Once foreign aid money goes through the health ministries, there is little or no system of keeping track of where the money goes after or how it is used. Facilities end up not having money to pay its healthcare workers, causing them to seek jobs elsewhere, leaving the population with a shortage of doctors and nurses.

Source: Posted on December 15, 2011 by jamiemusacchio1

Examples of corrupt instances in Sudan includes: surgery waiting lists. Because of limited capacity, public hospitals have established waiting lists for patients who need surgery. The most common technique is to bribe the medical staff in charge of the surgery waiting list. Another corrupt activity is the referral to specialist private clinics. Senior medical specialists in public hospitals frequently refrain from seeing all patients, or only see few, and instead refer the remaining to junior medical officers. Hygiene in public hospitals causes another corrupt practice.


Uganda’s health sector is the most corrupt in the East African region, a report released by the Inspectorate of Government (IGG) has said. The report, released to mark the International Anti-Corruption Day, said the sector is fraught with bribery and absenteeism, effectively undermining the population’s health and realization of the Millennium Development Goals.

Source: Anne Mugisa from Uganda

A report by the World Bank called “Quiet Corruption” has revealed that 95 per cent of resources allocated to the health sector in Ghana was diverted into the pockets of individuals. Ghana is second to Chad in terms of the most corrupt when it comes to managing resources in the health sector in Africa. “Quiet Corruption” is an annual Africa Development Indicators report that revealed that the problem of corruption goes beyond bribes and graft and affects health, education, and agriculture sectors on the continent. The 2010 report painted a gloomy picture of Ghana’s health sector alleging that officials are failing to deliver government goods and services to the ordinary people they are aimed at.

The sordid situation has saddened the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ). The commission said it has begun developing vigorous programmes to change the attitude of Ghanaians when it comes to corruption. Speaking on the Citi Breakfast Show on Wednesday, deputy Commissioner of CHRAJ, Richard Quayson, indicated that the commission’s upcoming conference on integrity is a step towards addressing the issue of corruption in the country. According to him, “because we are not committed to the systems we have put in place, we do not make it work and that also allows people to now begin to see the individuals so that they can get their corrupt practices recognized in the system. ”“You speak to some institutions and the first impression that they give you is that what you are bringing up is ideal, but it will not work in Ghana. “In other words they are saying that it should not work so if even you try to introduce it they would make sure that they frustrate the system so that it does not work,” Quayson noted. CHRAJ said prosecuting people found to be corrupt will not address the situation totally until a vigorous educational campaign is carried out.
“Mindset also has behavioral attitude which has to do with corruption as well and our approach is not just improving the system or getting the system right, but also about the individuals or the people in the society, working on the people to change their attitude,” he added.


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