Corrupt practices around medical safety gear for Covid19 health workers is tantamount to “murder”, the World Health Organisation (WHO) says.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that corruption which deprives health workers of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) threatened not only their lives but also the lives of their patients.
The WHO director-general was asked about corruption in South Africa, which is reeling from coronavirus-linked corruption scandals that have battered President Cyril Ramaphosa’s credibility and the country’s image abroad.
“Any type of corruption is unacceptable,” Tedros told a virtual news conference.
“However, corruption related to PPE… for me it’s actually murder. Because if health workers work without PPE, we’re risking their lives. And that also risks the lives of the people they serve.
“So it’s criminal and it’s murder and it has to stop.”
President Cyril Ramaphosa last month authorised an SIU investigation into Covid-19-related corruption.
The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) said on Friday it had obtained an interim court order freezing the bank accounts of 40 companies involved in suspect tenders to supply personal protective equipment to the Gauteng Department of Health during the Covid-19 pandemic, including Royal Bhaca.
Bakeries, pubs and even carwash businesses managed to score PPE tenders, according to the South African Revenue Service.