About a million people in the northern Mozambican province of Nampula have been deprived of health care because dishonest contractors have taken the money for building eight health units but have then abandoned them unfinished.

The provincial health director, Munira Abubakar, told a media conference in Nampula City on Wednesday that construction work on the eight health units cost around 70 million meticais (about 1.43 million US dollars, at current exchange rates).

The abandonment of these jobs by contractors, she said, had compromised the government’s efforts to expand the Nampula health network and to reduce the distance citizens must walk to reach the nearest health unit. Currently the average distance is more than ten kilometres.

When the health authorities looked into the matter they found that in none of the eight cases was the health unit as much as 50 per cent complete.

“We have taken certain measures. We have notified the contractors. Some have promised to resume the work. We have given them a short time to complete the jobs, since some of them date from 2012,” said Munira.

Nampula is the most populous province in Mozambique with more than four million inhabitants, many of whom face serious problems in access to medical care. For this year, the provincial government had hoped to build 11 new health units, “but we are not going to able to build all of them because of our budget”, said the director.

“So we have to study strategies of how to complete the jobs that are unfinished, for they too compromise our budget,” she added.

The abandoned jobs were financed by the World Bank and the Mozambican government. They particularly affect residents in the districts of Mogovolas, Moma, Ribaue, Memba and Rapale.

Source: AIM