Moroccan health sector criticised in corruption probe
By Siham Ali for Magharebia in Casablanca – 04/10/11
The Moroccan health sector has a bad case of corruption. Yet few members of the public are prepared to speak out. A recently published study by the Central Authority for the Prevention of Corruption (ICPC) found that few incidents were reported by citizens.
Less than 1% of the population said that they had spoken out against a corrupt activity, according to the study, the results of which were presented September 26th in Rabat.
Where people have spoken out against corruption, it most frequently involved private clinics. None of the reported cases of corruption involved public health centres, even though the problem remains significant. Three out of every ten people said they had resorted to bribery to receive healthcare, according to the report.
Members of the public remain sceptical that reporting corruption will result in convictions. Sixty-three per cent of those surveyed said that reporting corrupt activities was pointless or that officials would not be prosecuted. The remaining 37% said they simply hope they don't run into problems.
In order to address the issue and change public attitudes, the ICPC signed an agreement with the health ministry September 27th. Health Minister Yasmina Baddou admitted that the problem exists, but she said it should not be overstated.
Baddou said that raising awareness was essential to prevent the public from falling victim to corrupt activities in public hospitals, where a number of measures have been introduced.
"The public need to know their rights. For example, a list of drugs to be supplied to patients has been put on display. Patients must not pay for them," the minister said.
ICPC President Abdesselam Aboudrar called for a targeted approach, dealing first with the corruption hot spots. In particular, he said there should be an effort to establish good citizenship values, a restoration of confidence in health services, improvements in how equipment and supplies are managed, and greater controls, with better regulation and monitoring.
Health professionals interviewed for the study blamed corruption on members of the public. According to an account from a nurse at a provincial hospital in Casablanca, "patients and those accompanying them now arrive planning bribery to receive favourable treatment, or simply to receive the services to which they are entitled."
Users say that corruption in health services has become an everyday occurrence. For more than half of those interviewed, it has become normal, widespread behaviour.
Meanwhile, members of the public interviewed by Magharebia said that no one wants to throw away their money and that it was the healthcare professionals who extorted patients.
Mehdi, a 27-year-old man, told Magharebia that he went to the University Hospital in Rabat two months ago after falling down the stairs at home. The doctor refused to treat him, claiming he should go to the centre in Sale, where he lives. In the end the doctor examined him, after his brother slipped him 300 dirhams.
Mehdi did not report the incident. Instead he took the doctor's number so that he could seek his help on future occasions.
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