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Corruption longstanding problem in health sector – UN

Republika

The United Nations Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) recently released a report called “Speak Up for Health! Guidelines to Enable Whistleblower Protection in the Health Care Sector.” It pointed out that corruption is a major, long-standing problem in the health sector.

Addressing it is important and best done through people reporting corruption when they catch wind of it.


‘Long-standing’ is not an exaggeration by any means. The World Health Organization (WHO) has data all the way back to 2008. According to their estimate at the time, 7.3% of the $5.7 trillion spent on health globally ($415 billion) ended up lost to fraud and abuse related to health.


The report read, in part: “The risk of corruption in the health care sector becomes even greater, and its devastating effects become more evident in times of health and sanitary crises.”


Article 33 of the UNCAC or United Nations Convention Against Corruption says that state parties must consider having appropriate measures in their domestic legal systems that protect unjust treatment for people who report anomalies. The Philippines is a signatory of the UNCAC.


There is a step-by-step process in the UNODC report for internal policies and procedures to be established in terms of reporting wrongdoing and protecting those who reported it in the first place.


“In addition, the vast quantities of assets involved make the sector particularly susceptible to corruption,” the report adds. “These vulnerabilities can also weaken health care systems, waste resources and make countries less resilient to – and less agile in – health emergencies, compromising coverage and access to essential health care services.”


By default, the broad scope of the health sector makes it a prime ground for many people to take advantage. There are several vulnerabilities to speak of, such as national healthcare systems being complex in themselves. Moreover, the medical supply chain is chock-full of activities within public as well as private sectors alike.


“The health care sector is already considered vulnerable to corruption under normal circumstances. However, this vulnerability is amplified in times of health crises,” the report also states. “Corruption can even exacerbate an outbreak or the spread of a virus and undermine efforts to contain a pandemic.”


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