Unlocking Transparency and Accountability in Tanzania's Health Sector: A Tech-Driven Triumph
23 November 2023
Corruption can be a significant roadblock on the path to progress, especially in vital sectors like healthcare. In a groundbreaking initiative, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has teamed up with the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) as part of the Anti-Corruption for Peaceful and Inclusive Societies (ACPIS) Global Project to combat corruption in Tanzania's healthcare system. This initiative, funded by Norad and Sida, not only seeks to combat corruption but also advances Sustainable Development Goal 16 (SDG 16) - the goal dedicated to promoting peace, justice, and strong institutions.
In Tanzania, the project focuses on enhancing the capabilities of the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) in the fight against corruption within the healthcare sector. One of the key components of this endeavor involves arming PCCB with state-of-the-art technology and the Audit Command Language (ACL) analytical software tool. This powerful software empowers PCCB to extract valuable insights through extensive data analysis, transforming the agency's ability to assess the efficiency of internal controls and compliance procedures.
The impact of this initiative is already evident and speaks to the heart of SDG 16. Between January and June 2023, PCCB, with a particular emphasis on the Kagera region, initiated investigations into 52 projects worth a combined TZS 9.2 billion (approximately US$ 4 million). These projects span various sectors, including healthcare. Notably, discrepancies were uncovered in at least six projects valued at TZS 1.540 billion (around US$ 670,000), and swift actions were taken to rectify these issues.
During this period, the digital whistleblowing platforms, supported by the project, played a pivotal role. Approximately 120 complaints were reported, with 43 of them related to corruption. This led to investigations into 36 cases. These investigations uncovered a loss of TZS 30 million from services under the government cost-sharing scheme. Notably, a remarkable TZS 39.3 million (equivalent to US$ 17,000) was successfully recovered - funds that might have otherwise been lost through erroneous payments.
The success story extends beyond Kagera. In the Rukwa region, PCCB embarked on a similar pilot test, investigating nine projects valued at TZS 836.9 million (US$ 365,000). These projects included the construction of healthcare and education infrastructure. During the monitoring and investigations, PCCB unveiled inflated charges in the procurement of building materials, violations of procurement procedures, and project delays. Over this period, PCCB received a total of 61 complaints, with 44 related to corruption. Investigations into these 44 cases are ongoing, with four new cases filed in court and 12 cases in various stages of court hearings.
These achievements underscore the significant progress toward the long-term goal of strengthening PCCB's capacity to combat corruption within the healthcare sector. This collaborative effort between UNDP and PCCB exemplifies the transformative power of technology and innovation in promoting transparency, accountability, and ultimately, advancing SDG 16. As we look ahead, it is evident that with continued support and dedication, the fight against corruption in Tanzania's healthcare sector is on a trajectory to lasting success, creating a brighter and more equitable future for all and advancing the cause of SDG 16.