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HomeNews ReleaseSA Medical Technology Industry Association: Unmask corruption in medtech sector

SA Medical Technology Industry Association: Unmask corruption in medtech sector

The South African Medical Technology Industry Association (SAMED) honours the International Anti-Corruption Day on 9 December and asks South Africans to act on the global theme, “Your right, your role: say no to corruption”.

SAMED, a not-for-gain association, was formed in 1985 and is the voice of the South African medical technology industry. It aims to provide members with a collective, objective and credible platform to engage with stakeholders.

Given the attention it receives, the broader ramifications of corruption are becoming obvious to us all: wasted efforts, failed projects, lost livelihoods and humiliated reputations of individuals and organisations.

The medtech industry is at the centre of healthcare delivery with many SAMED members providing products and services essential to personal protection, vaccinations and immunisation as well as the full spectrum of medical care.

SAMED’s Executive Officer Tanya Vogt is clear: “In the healthcare space, corruption impacts on morbidity and mortality. SAMED condemns corruption in all its shapes, forms and disguises and stands resolute to do even more to counter unethical behaviour that involves the medical technology sector.”

Corruption is a matter of life and death for a patient who receives the wrong treatment because of a medical product wrongly administered due to undue influence and unethical behaviour by a supplier, healthcare provider or procurement official.

“Considered by many as the superhero of protecting patient interests and standing up to corruption, for Babita Deokaran it meant the price of life. Ms Deokaran was the chief director of financial accounting in the Gauteng Department of Health who was apparently assassinated for being a whistle-blower in the case against PPE corruption in the province. We salute Ms Deokaran and hope her legacy lives through legal justice and a procurement system that grows more resilient to the evils of corruption.”

SAMED recognises that schemes to profit from the COVID-19 pandemic through PPE and other medical supplies mushroomed across the country. Procurement irregularities occupied the top spot of all corruption in the health sector reported during 2020 (21%) according to Corruption Watch. The organisation says that 442 acts of corruption reported last year also feature compliance issues, soliciting of kickbacks, and fraudulent activities in various state institutions, agencies and departments, as well as the private sector.

Lest we forget, tender transgression and possible corruption are also at the centre of the Life Esidimeni tragedy and the Digital Vibes crisis, resulting in enormous human and financial resources being diverted from much-needed service delivery to legal battles.

“We all have a role to play in fighting the pandemic of corruption. SAMED calls on medtech suppliers, patients, healthcare professionals and healthcare institutions, everyone who works within or passes through the health system, to be accountable and join us in stopping this abuse of human rights and patients’ rights to decent healthcare as enshrined in Section 27 of the Constitution. It’s time to unmask corruption so that the perpetrators can face justice and to deter similar crimes in the future,” says Vogt.

As the voice of the South African medical technology industry, SAMED has created two potent instruments to champion good governance among its members and any medtech supplier, and it supports that the public, healthcare professionals, procurement officials and healthcare funders also make use of them:

The Medical Device Code for Ethical Marketing and Business Practice is a defender of ethics and a self-regulation mechanism to safeguard against unethical conduct. SAMED asks that anyone who is buying or using medical technologies insists that the supplier is a signatory of the Code, which provides clear, practical instruction for ethical business and marketing conduct and guides on how to deal with transgressions.

The Medical Device Code Whistleblowing Hotline (freecall 0800 00 04 68) is independently managed and enables anonymous tip-offs regarding the Code. Other inappropriate activities happening in the healthcare space, which are unrelated to medtech, are also reported to the hotline because the whistle-blowers have confidence that SAMED will direct their concerns to the appropriate authority.

“SAMED was one of the inaugural private-sector signatories to the Health Sector Anti-Corruption Forum, launched by President Cyril Ramaphosa in the few months preceding the COVID pandemic.

“We are proud of the mandate given to us by our two hundred-strong member base but we would like to ensure that the same ethical principles that they embody apply to all who supply essential medical technology products. Healthcare workers and patients expect that from us,” said Vogt.

Issued by SAMED

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