By Confidente Reporter
THE scandal-plagued Odibo Health Centre in the Ohangwena region has systematically been overpaying and in some cases underpaying its staff members for seven months, a joint investigation by the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS) and Ohangwena Regional Council revealed. Although health officials said that the financial implications were an internal matter, sources within the Government-subsidised hospital told Confidente that the process drained hundreds of thousands of dollars that could have been used to ease the hospital’s problems and provide quality services to the masses.
Irregular affairs including alleged nepotism and favouritism in the awarding of tenders as well as abuse of hospital funds by senior officials have long been flagged by disgruntled workers resulting in incorrect salaries that have gone uncorrected since September 2015 to March 2016.
The workers prior to the investigations said that rather than moving quickly to correct the costly errors, senior officials at the hospital reportedly turned a blind eye and as a result, the payment anomalies and mismanagement continued.
Health Permanent Secretary, Dr Andreas Mwoombola said that the matter will not go unchallenged noting that those overpaid will have to pay back the money while those underpaid will be reimbursed.
“A recent support visit to the facility by a committee from MoHSS and Ohangwena Regional Council found that the VIP classic payroll system used at the health facility was not operating as it should, causing over and under payment of some of the staff members at the health centre,” said Mwoombola.
The PS however added that the matter was now being rectified. “The committee recommended that a consultant be hired to implement the missing features on the payroll system to ensure that the system is fully functional”. Last year, insiders accused senior officials of running the hospital as “an island on its own” by defying almost all of the health centre’s directives that led to massive irregularities. Other reported irregularities at the time suggested how senior officials used their positions to borrow money from the hospital but hardly paid back.
The workers also exposed how the officials shrugged off reports of poor catering services that saw the hospital pay for food that was not served to patients. The hospital’s nurse manager, Simon Mathias however told Confidente that the institution at the time had resolved to give the catering company a second chance despite a damning letter he wrote addressing the poor quality of food served to patients. “The quality of food served to patients is going down in contrast to the invoiced amounts that keep going down (sic)… Patients have been fed the cheapest fresh fish for the past two months. There is no variety when it comes to fruits, it has been oranges for the past three weeks. The number of meals served for the month of April, May and June do not tally with the number of patients who were in the ward during the same period. The invoices are generated at a record time which look like guess work. The meals tally sheet for the months of April, May and June are not put together at month end (sic), and no one signed to authenticate them. And there are many figures with scratches and re-writings,” read his letter written July last year.
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