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  • Global Challenges

    Workshop: Improving integrity in the Health Sector – Stories from the field

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    Coordinator: Samuel De Jaegere – Policy Analyst Anti-Corruption – UNDP Asia-Pacific Regional Centre

    Corruption reduces access to health services, lowers the quality of health care and diverts resources away from investments in the health sector. Corruption in the health sector impedes efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on reducing child mortality (MDG 4), improving maternal mortality (MDG 5) and combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases (MDG 6). Corruption and poor governance help explain why increased funding allocations, such as those aimed at meeting the MDGs have not necessarily translated into improvements in human development indicators. Success in meeting the health related MDGs will therefore also depend on improved integrity in the health sector.

    Despite considerable funding increases, Africa is largely lagging behind in meeting MDG 4 on reducing child mortality. WHO estimates that today two billion people or one-third of the global population lack regular access to medicines. Despite decades of concerted efforts to improve health systems and to increase access to medicines for patients in low-income countries, access to medicines remains a core health policy concern. WHO initiated the Good Governance for Medicines Programme in 2004 to improve integrity in the procurement and distribution of medicines.

    With US$ 4.1 trillion spent on health services worldwide each year and $US 750 billion in the global pharmaceutical market, the health and pharmaceutical sectors are an obvious target for corrupt practices. Trust in health care providers is undermined in many countries. For example, doctors receive money from pharmaceutical companies to prescribe specific medicines, doctors and nurses sell health services sometimes deemed to be freely provided by the state, practicing licenses can be obtained through bribery. In some cases, people have even lost their lives due to the market in fake medicines. How can these corrupt practices be tackled and how can integrity in the health sector be improved?

    This workshop will take an in-depth look at both grand corruption in the pharmaceutical sector and petty corruption that affects the poor in their day-to-day encounters with health service providers. International experts on corruption in the health sector and practitioners from the field will share their experiences in measuring corruption in the health sector and in implementing specific interventions at the national, regional and local level to improve integrity.

    The workshop will highlight success stories in combating corruption in the health sector, raise awareness about the negative effects of corruption in the health sector, especially for the most vulnerable and marginalized people, and explore strategies to reduce grand and petty corruption in the health sector.

    Specifically, the panelists will present effective strategies for those areas where corruption occurs mostly in the health sector, for example in day-to-day service delivery by medical personnel, recruitment of medical personnel, procurement of drugs and medical equipment and distribution of drugs.

    Moderator: Mohamed Ramzy Ismail – Technical Officer – Division of Health Systems and Services Development – WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean.

    Rapporteur: Charmaine Rodrigues – Regional Legislative Strengthening Expert – UNDP Pacific Centre


    Goodwell Lungu – Executive Director – TI Zambia

    Taryn Vian – Associate Professor of International Health – Boston University School of Public Health – USA

    Niyada Kiatying-Angsulee, Director Social Research Institute & Chair Social Pharmacy Research Unit – Chulalongkorn University – Thailand

    Eelco Jacobs – Researcher “Governance of Health Systems” project – Basel Institute on Governance – Switzerland

    Sjoerd Postma – Senior Health Specialist – Asian Development Bank – Philippines

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