October 27, 2020
The Regional Manager of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) in the North-West Region, Al-Hassan Sesay has told the District Health Management Team (DHMT) in Karene that the ACC has an unwavering resolve to fight corruption and sanitize the health sector.
He made this statement during a sensitization meeting held on the 22nd October 2020 at the DHMT’s office in Kamakwie Town. The meeting, as part of the Commission’s public education drive was convened as a result of several complaints and concerns from the general public on corrupt practices within the Peripheral Health Units (PHUs) in the district.
Addressing staff of the team, the Regional Manager Al-Hassan Sesay acknowledged the role of health workers to citizens’ survival and maintaining a healthy human resource for the development of the state. He pointed out that the customized meeting was to educate and remind the DHMT staff of their roles and key responsibilities to ensuring the maximization of quality health service delivery to the People of Karene District. He lamented over the health sector’s second position in the Perception Survey conducted by the Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law and the current state of affairs in the sector which was as a result of the sustained presence of corruption. He noted that if the country gets it wrong in the health sector, it will have debilitating consequences on the survival of citizens and therefore called on health workers to change this negative public perception and to maximize efficient, affordable and accessible service delivery.
Emphasizing the significance of public support in the fight against corruption, Manager Sesay stated that when you fight corruption, corruption fights back which in turn means every Sierra Leonean must embrace the fight and exert more energy to changing the narratives. “We must all make a decision to support the ACC for the good of the country”, he emphasized. He pointed out several corruption related practices in the health sector including but not limited to the prevalence of extortion and levying of illegal charges in PHUs, absenteeism, abandonment of post and time theft.
The ACC Regional Manager further explained corruption offences including offering, soliciting and accepting advantage, abuse of office and position, influencing a public officer, misappropriation of public funds and property, misappropriation of donor fund and property. Whilst urging senior management to enhance best practice and device measures to mitigate corruption risks and vulnerabilities, he reminded them of the presence of the elite scorpion squad of the ACC in the region which will strike when the need arise.
Making a statement on the role of the DHMT, Public Education Officer Mohamed Thullah said senior management was expected to put together a workable internal control mechanism that will address key corruption issues as well as robust monitoring and supervision of the activities of staff and in-Charges in PHUs to enhance quality delivery of services to the people. He explained key highlights of the 2019 amendment Act relating to increase in fines and jail terms, asset declaration, cancellation of contracts, trial in absentia among other things.
Earlier in her welcome statement on behalf of the District Medical Officer, District Health Sister 1 Isatu Bosco Kamara thanked the ACC for engaging the DHMT in Karene on corruption and described the move as laudable and as a way of preventing corruption. The District Health Sister 2 Yellia M. Kargbo also expressed similar sentiments and commended the ACC on the significant strides made in the fight against corruption. She said public officers have a sacred responsibilities in protecting public funds and conducting their activities in a transparent and an accountable fashion. Various questions, comments and concerns were raised by staff of the DHMT present followed by presentation of IEC materials.