Hospitals Under CIAA Scanner
it seems corruption has become endemic to our nation. Almost every sector is beset with the vice of corruption. The scourge is so deeply rooted in the nation, especially in the government sector, that no day passes without the news about big corruption scandal.
Lately, the corruption scandal related to the fixation and exemption of huge taxes to the business and corporate houses has hit the nation. The government officers find themselves constantly under the surveillance of the anti-graft body, thanks to their penchant for dabbling in corruption.
The government offices and government-owned institutions of the nation have become synonymous for corruption and abuse of authority. As such, the nation often witnesses corruption taking place while procuring expensive materials and equipment in government-run hospitals too. Lately, the anti-graft agency captured the files related to the purchase of an MRI machine in the BP Koirala Instiute of Health Sciences. The reports said that the machine was bought paying Rs. 180 million which would only cost about Rs. 120 million. It has been alleged that because of the wrong doing of the procurement department of the famous government-owned medical college-cum-hospital, the government had incurred a loss of Rs. 60 million.
The government hospitals and other departments are found involved in the illegal practice - buying equipment at inflated prices deliberately despite a government provision on the public procurement procedure. The procedure tells that the concerned departments must follow the government-set rules and regulations while purchasing expensive equipment.
The awarding of procurement rights to the bidder who would provide the equipment at the cheapest price among all the bidders must be followed strictly. However, owing to some “nexus,” the bidding process either is not followed or is compromised for the sake of bribes and commission. This is the reason that compels the officials responsible to purchase expensive items and equipment paying higher prices. Some portions of higher prices paid to the procurers often come to them in the form of bribes and commission.
The worst part of the procurement scenario is that even after getting the expensive equipment purchased, the authority often remains unable to operate such equipment to their full capacity. After some months, such equipment is said to be gathering dust. And after sometimes, the authority floats the idea of replacing these equipment with newer ones. We often get to read or hear the news that many important medical equipment in the nation’s oldest hospital, Bir Hospital, have been gathering dust for want of technicians who can operate the machines. The oldest hospital, according to some reports, possessed necessary modern medical machines of several types. But most of them have not been operated to their optimum capacity. The private health centres that possess the same types of machines, however, can operate them at their maximum capacity through the available technicians.
A tendency among the doctors working at government hospitals also hints at growing incidence of corruption - instead of providing the required services by utilising the available machines at the hospitals, many of the doctors ask their patients to undergo MRI or CT scan tests at private health centres, which invariably provide the doctors with commissions for referring the patients.
The above incidents prove the fact that like many government departments, the government-owned hospitals are not free from the scourge of corruption. The anti-graft body must pay its proper attention to the government hospitals, especially in the sphere of procurement activity which involves financial transactions.