VICE President Constantino Chiwenga has ordered a full investigation into alleged cases of corruption and drug theft by nurses and doctors in public hospitals.
This follows a NewsDay report last Friday exposing underpaid healthcare staff who had come up with well-designed methods of supplementing their incomes by charging desperate patients extra money to get preferential treatment.
The scam involves nurses, doctors, pharmacists and general staff at public hospitals.
Sources told NewsDay yesterday that Chiwenga, who also serves as health minister, was shaken by the report and immediately ordered investigations to salvage the reputation of the health and childcare ministry.
Health and child care spokesman Donald Mujiri confirmed the investigations.
“The ministry has launched a thorough investigation into the matter with a view to maintaining professionalism, improving service delivery and at the same time protecting patients from errant staff members,” Mujiri said, noting that the ministry has not had not yet confirmed the prevalence of these bad practices.
“If so, such unethical and criminal behavior has no place in the public health sector.
“Investigations will be carried out in our public institutions to ensure that we deal with these malcontents who bring discredit to the ministry and the government while defrauding innocent citizens who are our very important customers and the very taxpayers we serve.
“We encourage members of the public to promptly report any such behavior to our Head of Institution or the police,” Mujiri added.
Doctors and nurses from the Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals (Parirenyatwa) and Harare Hospital, who spoke to this publication last week, said they were forced into immorality due to low salaries which cannot not cover their monthly expenses.
Several patients from areas such as Chivhu, Mutare and Masvingo told NewsDay they had to pay bribes to public health facilities to access treatment and drugs.
In a statement released yesterday, Parirenyatwa Hospital said it had not received any reports of bribery or corruption involving its healthcare staff.
“Notices have been placed at strategic points in the hospital with details of where members of the public can report any corrupt activity.
“Currently, the Casualty Control Department, in conjunction with the Zimbabwe Republic Police Officers on site, have developed an anti-corruption awareness campaign programme,” the hospital said.