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Thursday, 28 May 2009

Corruption Watch (Ministry of Health)

IRIN provides some important quotes from the Dutch Government and SIDA. Interesting to see the emphasis on the "Dutch taxpayer". If only Zambian's had the same rage over the plunder of national resources :
The governments of the Netherlands and Sweden announced they had suspended aid after a whistleblower alerted Zambia's Anti-Corruption Commission [ACC] to the embezzlement of over US$2 million from the health ministry by top government officials. "The misuse of Dutch taxpayers' money is unacceptable," said Development Cooperation Minister Bert Koenders in a statement, adding that Dutch aid would be put on hold until the ACC and Zambia's Auditor General released the findings from their investigations. 

Donors fund 55 percent of the country's health budget. The Dutch government, the largest supporter of Zambia's tuberculosis (TB) programme, contributes about 13 million euros (US$18 million) annually to rural healthcare, preventing malaria, TB and HIV, and training medical staff. The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) had earmarked 88 million kroner (about $12 million) for Zambia's health ministry before the scandal broke, but will now await the ACC's findings before releasing the funds. "SIDA will not accept any abuse of development money," Charlotta Norrby, head of SIDA in Zambia, told local media.
Update (29 May 2009) : Health Minister Kapembwa Simbao earlier today laid out the likely impact of aid suspension on the health system : 
During a joint briefing in Lusaka on the financing of the health sector after withdrawal of aid by some donors, Simbao said K24 billion was required every month to meet hospital requirements in the country.

"District hospitals will be the most affected since their allocation amounts to K16 billion per month and these funds is meant for feeding of patients, operations, HIV programmes, nursing and clinical duties, among other programmes.  So you can see the difficulties that we will undergo through," Simbao said. "So we are considering reducing or suspending funding to certain areas without causing damage and we have in mind items like seminars and others that can be pushed forward to next year."

5 comments:

  1. Hats off to the Swedes and the Dutch, who finally took action as a result of uncomfortable questions posed of government by activists back in their homeland; all very long overdue. Perhaps the Irish - thanks to The Post - will now do the honourable thing over the Luwingu Council scam. But there is not a donor who has not sat back and seen its tax payers' money disappear into the long trousers of the clan called civil self-servant. Many of the donors will continue to keep quiet, hoping no one back home gets a coopy of the AG reports, that they can complete their tour in the sun among all those happy faces without standing up for something, somebody. For the corruption whistleblower, however, it is simply a case of being hounded by the state and then deported. All really rather simple, you know. Yawn! "Pass the marmalade, my dear".

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  2. It will be interesting to see if the thesis put forward in Dead Aid holds true in this instance -- that rather than address the systemic corruption problems within the Ministry of Health in order to regain the trust of the Swedes and Dutch, the government will instead accept equivalent donor funds from a third donor state eager to curry favour and increase their own influence in the country. Not to imply that if the corruption is actually addressed then Dambisa Moyo was wrong, as such a reaction could equally support the hypothesis that her book has had an effect on both donors and government, or that the two are unrelated (i.e. there is an exception to every rule). I certainly would not like to see the situation persist long enough to necessitate a shutdown of massive portions of the health delivery network, however should such a third donor emerge with lofty statements about humanitarian need then their motives should not simply be taken at face value, and serious effort should be made to detect evidence of any larger quid pro quo deals (such as sudden access to mineral rights or land for plantations).

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  3. I think the suspension of aid would definitely lead to better improvement in the use of aid in the health sector. From what Mr Simbao is saying (see the update to the post above), it is forcing them to focus on what matters although the costs will certainly be real. The reduction is significant and the public outrage growing.

    I do think though that Health may be special here. Suspending health aid has a direct impact and very likely to be noticed by ordinary residents. Its literally a matter of life and death. That is why I think corruption is high in health as well. The corrupt elements know it is difficult for donors to turn off health aid when lives are being lost. But the credit crunch clearly is changing the maths and many donors are having to justify why they should spend money abroad when its being wasted.

    So the incentives on government and donors are somewhat complicated!

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  4. It's nice to know how the government deal with that problem. Thanks for sharing.

    Buy Vega

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  5. Cancer D Hospital Executive director at UTH needs to be investigated as to alleged contract kickbacks and purchase of properties and HR, at the same believe me it is not what you all see from outside.

    Concerned Employee

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