Corruption in the health sector can mean the difference between life and death. Poor people are worst affected. Medical staff can charge unofficial fees to attend to patients. They may demand bribes for medication which should be free. Or they may let patients who bribe them queue-jump. Corruption also costs lives when fake or adulterated medications are sold to health services.
Without proper checks from regulators, public health funds can easily disappear. World Bank surveys show that in some countries, up to 80 per cent of non-salary health funds never reach local facilities. Ministers and hospital administrators can siphon millions of dollars from health budgets. Or they can accept bribes. This distorts policy and denies people hospitals, medicines and qualified staff. Stolen funds also hamper efforts to beat major health challenges, such as malaria and HIV/AIDS.
It’s not only developing countries which suffer. Wealthy countries lose millions of dollars each year to insurance fraud and corruption. The solution?