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The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) is awaiting the
president’s go-ahead to investigate allegations that Health Professions Council
of South Africa (HPSCA) employees may have taken bribes in exchange for medical
registrations and board exam passes, according to a report by the Mail &
Guardian’s Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism.

The allegations were revealed recently by HPSCA ombud
Munyadziwa Kwinda at a symposium held by the Wits Students’ Bioethics Society.
The head of SIU communications Nazreen Pandor confirmed to Bhekisisa that the
unit has applied to the Office of the Presidency to begin the investigation.
Legislation requires the SIU to obtain this kind of approval via the department
of justice for each inquiry it launches.

If allegations prove true, it may mean that people who were
not qualified to provide medical care were fraudulently given HPCSA
registration numbers that could have allowed them to masquerade as healthcare
professionals and bill medical aids.

The HPCSA says it has already supplied the SIU with
requested information and documentation pertaining to the allegations, according
to HPCSA head of communications Priscilla Sekhonyana. She declined to comment
on how many officials were under investigation or whether any had faced
disciplinary action.

The proposed SIU investigation may be the latest signal from
the state watchdog that it is getting serious about corruption in the
healthcare sector.

Last year, SIU head advocate Andy Mothibi announced at the
Presidential Health Summit that the body would create a special anti-corruption
forum for the health sector, which he said would include civil society. An
attorney with the public interest law organisation Section27, Nkululeko Conco,
confirmed that the National Health Anti-Corruption Forum has been launched and
now includes Section27 as well as the National Prosecuting Authority and the
non-profit Corruption Watch. Pando says the forum has already received multiple