Editorial | Charities and the fight against corruption
Kudos to international reggae artiste Shaggy for meeting his target of $100m for the Bustamante Hospital for Children. His Make a Difference Foundation held a charity event earlier this year and had major buy-in from corporate sponsors and music lovers. The money will provide an opportunity to install new equipment and modern technology at this major health-care facility for children.
While we applaud Shaggy and his friends, we are urging accountability in how the money is spent by the hospital. Charities are rated by their accountability and transparency. And donors want to know that funds are efficiently used for the purpose intended.
Shaggy is backed by a powerful organisation and, therefore, we believe his team will ensure that rigid oversight will protect the management of funds and equipment from corruption.
It is an uphill task to raise funds for a hospital and health-care facilities. After all, people will argue that they pay their taxes. However, we hope some people may draw inspiration from Shaggy's example. To be sure, the continued fundraising effort for our hospital is invaluable. Before Shaggy, we benefited from the generosity of Chain of Hope based in London, which has also strengthened the cardiac programme for that hospital.
Accountability is a key component of health-care reform. Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton has repeatedly talked about making hospitals being more accountable for the best patient outcome. He sees this as a systemwide challenge. Meanwhile, Auditor General Pamela Monroe Ellis undertook a performance audit of the South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA). She criticised SERHA for not proving her with documentary evidence to do with procurement.
Despite ongoing efforts to improve the delivery of healthcare, it's an open secret that many items go missing from hospitals, bed linen disappears, and medical equipment is stolen. Patients are denied access to valuable equipment , and the idea of improving patient outcome is denied.
Not an easy journey
The journey to becoming a child-friendly facility is by no means an easy journey and healthcare fraud, waste and abuse are difficult to tackle.
This is where the whistle-blower legislation would prove valuable in combating healthcare fraud. The legislation would allow more aggressive pursuit of providers, clinical laboratories, and facilities that are carrying out fraudulent schemes. Health-care professionals must, therefore, be held accountable to high ethical standards.
Jamaica is not short of checks and balances. For example, The Medical Act, 1972 establishes and confers power on the Medical Council of Jamaica. It describes the functions of the council: The appointment of officers, including the medical register; disciplinary procedures; and the circumstances for censure, suspension and striking off medical practitioners. The evidence, however, will show that very few prosecutions have been undertaken.