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Moroccan health sector criticised in corruption probe

By Siham Ali for Magharebia in Casablanca – 04/10/11

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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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  1. Anonymous thumb

    jamal karmoussi 2013-6-14

    Corruption remains a great scourge rooted in society in general at all levels, but it must be noted that the problem is flagrant at the highest level, especially in the private business/economic sector. In order to fight, we need to make young people and the future generations aware, and this should go into the education system of the establishments.


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    jamel 2013-3-4

    Civil war! Civil war! Civil war! That is the solution. Destroy everything in the country to make the European come in to put order back in the country; otherwise, for as long as our Arab brothers are in power, nothing will go well.


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    rachid boukaissi 2013-1-1

    as i live in london and had a hreart surgery i have no comment to make about the moroccan health system because it doesn't exist , my sister had to endure two operations ,the first one was in the wrong place and 10 weeks of torture(treatment) in the hand of the butchers of clinic anoual in kenitra, my sister has developed ptsd (post traumatic stress disorder) and no one has admited responsibility. i will pursue them till she gets justice for this barbarism


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    limakarim 2012-10-4

    Praise be to God alone! Every Moroccan citizen has the right to know what happens inside urban and rural hospitals, repressive and abusive treatment of patients by most nurses and physicians. They are extorted in a direct and open way. Any official who denies this, it is easy to find out the truth. This can be done through spontaneous visits and inspections to different health institutions and speaking directly to visiting patients inside the hospital without prior notice to such institutions and you will see what goes on. Except if you want to cover such violations and scandals including repression of patients inside hospitals, their situation including the dirt and garbage inside rooms and meals offered to them. They don’t benefit from medicines except if they buy them from nurses and physicians. This is because medicines sent to the hospital are distributed between all staff of this institution. But when the visitor or patient needs these medicines, he has to pay a high price to the nurse or physician who administers them to him. It is impossible to get them for free. God is the best disposer of affairs about what I say. I have seen this with my eyes in Derrak hospital in the city of Berkane as it happens in all hospitals of the country without need to question this. On the other hand, the patient benefits from medical equipment for a price or they tell you they are out of service. As for analyses, you shouldn’t be happy about them either as they are done for a price. In addition, there are physicians who receive patients and give them an appointment in a private clinic. There, they examine them in a room for a price with the agreement with the owner of the clinic. Everyone is aware of this including authorities and officials. However, no one reacts. I will give you an example of this. There is a specialist practitioner in cardiovascular diseases who used to work in Derrak hospital. Whenever a patient came to him, he gave him an appointment in Hatim private clinic. There, he examines him for a price. The price of the examination is 250 dirhams. This physician is Dr Faraj who opened now a private clinic in the city of Berkane. The list is long and there are many such examples. I swear by God this is true and there is no exaggeration about it.


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    Essid 2011-10-30

    To Aziza- The health sector in Morocco is overflowing with problems, many of which are the result of mismanagement at all levels, including that of the Minister of Health. However, the specific complaint that you raised is incorrect. Vaccinations do not cure diseases; they prevent the initial infection of a virus before one becomes sick. (In short, a vaccine injects a dead or severely damage version of the virus in the human body so that the immune system can learn how to fight the virus without the risk of the virus reproducing itself.) As such, vaccinations are most frequently given to people who are not sick but who are at a high risk of contracting contagious viruses. In 2010, approximately 3 million people made the Hajj to Mecca, and because there are so many people jam-packed into such a small area, there is a high risk of the spread of infectious diseases. In conclusion, it was very intelligent for this Minister of Health to require that all pilgrims be vaccinated in order to avoid contracting a virus and returning to Morocco with the contagion. This is far safer and far more cost-efficient than trying to treat those pilgrims who come back with an illness or who may be infected by these pilgrims.


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    مروان عبد الحكيم شباب 20 فبراير 2011-10-24

    God is witness that I am only speaking the truth and nothing but the truth. In a visit to a clinic in Fès, I saw the following events: the visitor finds at the door many peace doves at the reception and information desk. The first step by the patient is what they call screen (ultrasound scan): 350 dirhams; then after the screen comes the turn of taking the picture (radiography): another 350 dirhams. Then he goes to a room full of nurses and secretaries with just one or two doctors with them with their long beards and glasses examining results of checks. Everyone is holding in his hand beads to make patients believe they are pious, respect morals of religion behind which they hide their greediness and readiness to extort money of citizen by different ways of camouflage, chicanery and bullying by using a lot of ambiguous words and exchanging signs with each other. Before examining or receiving a patient, he is evaluated by a specialist there from his clothes, the number of people who came with him, the number of people who came with him, whether he came in a luxurious car especially a 4X4. From knowing these facts, they will know whether he is worthwhile or not. This is what happens in all clinics. The citizen-patient is prey in the hands of these people in whose hearts God has sown cruelty and love of money, removed from their hearts mercy and compassion. They prey on Moroccan patients without controller or supervisor. We 20 February movement address our call to all Moroccan patients to be careful and wary about such thieves, greedy, preying physicians keen on collecting money and extorting citizens. We also address a call to officials in the ministry of health to protect citizens from greediness of physicians in private clinics. As for public hospitals, the situation is worse. They are featured by negligence, carelessness, arrogance, expelling citizens and selling stolen medicines in and outside hospitals in the sight of everyone. There are other cases in which the physician in the public hospital forces the patient to visit him in his private clinic to carry on stripping the patient and depriving him of everything he has.


    • Anonymous thumb

      samir 2013-7-11

      In fact, there is no difference between public and private. These are the same Moroccans. In private, the "tips" and "bribes" are rather high for a mediocre service. Don't forget one thing: the quality of service in terms of professional skills is better in public than in private. The proof is the doctors from the public sector who improve the private sector's value.


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    aziza 2011-10-20

    Everything in the health sector in Morocco started going from bad to worse since the arrival of Minister Badou. For example, she forced hajj (pilgrims) get vaccinations at the airport or else they would not go to the holy land in order to sell off the vaccines she bought at an excessive price. But how many hajj pilgrims were sick? She should be prosecuted, but by whom?


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    Zyad 2011-10-12

    When corruption is the backbone of the system, you need to attack it at the source: the monarchy.


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    BEN 2011-10-6

    The problem here is that the citizens do not manage to tell the difference between doctors, belonging to a honourable service, and the medicine dealers. The employees, the assistants and many doctors have not stopped doing marches and protests to denounce more than just corruption, but who is listening to them? Do we need to wait for a civil war for this to change? Because what is happening is too serious and it has already been said that an international investigation is necessary.


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    Fatima 2011-10-5

    Neglect is a form of abuse, I’m a witness (through family history) that healthcare in Maroc has and continues to neglect its patients, even if you pay you don’t get much, I’m confident to say they are completely incompetent, the reasons are many and subject to much discussion but patients in hospitals do get abused by neglect.


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    Amine 2011-10-5

    It saddens me to know that not only does this practice continue in our hospitals, but that the citizens do nothing about it and do not denounce it for the reason that nothing will be done or because they are afraid. I feel like telling them that in order for the state agencies to be able to do their job against this scourge, the citizens need to denounce archaic practices. And, moreover, the citizens themselves need to know their rights and obligations in order to defend them and say “No!” to these devils when they demand what they do not have a right to. –Good day


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    Mohamed Tangiers 2011-10-4

    Of every 1 I have ever talked to about the Moroccan healthcare system, not 1 person had ever said they got help or treatment without paying bribes, let alone favouritism, the Moroccan health care system is none existent at best, at worst, it can be classed as waiting room for death. Never have I, as a Moroccan (or human), been so disgusted by how humans can treat other humans as when I myself visited a well known hospital in the south. I dream of nothing more than to return to Morocco and live, but the 1 thing that is at the forefront of my mind is this supposed healthcare, or lack of it. Do I go and take my children to a country without healthcare but retain their identity? Or do I let them slowly adopt another but have healthcare when they need it? What is more important, identity or health?


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