Changing the Conversation, Why We Need to Reframe Corruption as a Public Health Issue; Comment on “We Need to Talk About Corruption in Health Systems”

Document Type: Commentary

Author

World Health Organization (WHO), Geneva, Switzerland

Abstract

There has been slow progress with finding practical solutions to health systems corruption, a topic that has long languished in policy-makers “too difficult tray.” Efforts to achieve universal health coverage (UHC) provide a new imperative for addressing the long-standing problem of corruption in health systems making fighting corruption at all levels and in all its forms a priority. In response, health system corruption should be classified as a risk to public health and addressed by adopting a public health approach. Taking a public health approach to health systems corruption could promote a new paradigm for working on health system anti-corruption efforts. A public health approach could increase the space for policy dialogue about corruption, focus work to address corruption on prevention, help generate and disseminate evidence about effective interventions strategies, and because of its focus on multisectoral action would provide new opportunities for promoting cooperation on anti-corruption work across multiple agencies and sectors. Using a public health approach to tackle health system corruption could help address the current inertia around the topic and create a new positive mindset among policy-makers who would come to see corruption as a manageable public health problem rather than an intractable one.

Keywords

Main Subjects


  1. Political declaration of the high-level meeting on universal health coverage. UN General Assembly, A/RES/74/2. https://www.un.org/pga/73/wp-content/uploads/sites/53/2019/07/FINAL-draft-UHC-Political-Declaration.pdf.   
  2. Peters A. Corruption as a Violation of International Human Rights. European Journal of International Law. 2018;29(4):1251-1287. doi:10.1093/ejil/chy070
  3. Mackey TK, Vian T, Kohler J. The sustainable development goals as a framework to combat health sector corruption. Bull World Health Organ. 2018;96(9):634-643. doi:10.2471/BLT.18.209502
  4. Hutchinson E, Balabanova D, McKee M. We need to talk about corruption in health systems. Int J Health Policy Manag. 2019;8(4):191-194. doi:10.15171/IJHPM.2018.123
  5. Gee J, Button B. The financial cost of healthcare fraud 2015: What data from around the world shows. PKF Littlejohn LLP; 2015.
  6. Persson A, Rothstein B, & Teorell J. Why Anti-corruption Reforms Fail— Systemic Corruption as a Collective Action Problem. Governance. 2013;26(3):449-479.  doi:10.1111/j.1468-0491.2012.01604.x
  7. Bauhr M, Grimes M. Indignation or Resignation: The implications of transparency for social accountability. Governance. 2014;27(2):291-320.  doi:10.1111/gove.12033
  8. Marquette H. ‘Finding God’ or ‘Moral Disengagement’ in the Fight against Corruption in Developing Countries? Evidence from India and Nigeria. Public Adm Dev. 2012;32(1):11-26.  doi:10.1002/pad.1605
  9. Rothstein B. Anti-corruption: the indirect big bang approach.  Rev Int Polit Econ. 2011;18(2):228-250. Doi:10.1080/09692291003607834
  10. Dong B, Dulleck U, Torgler B. Conditional Corruption. J Econ Psychol. 2012;33(3):609-627A.
  11. Bauhr M, Nasiritousi N. Why pay bribes? Collective action and anti-corruption efforts. Working Paper Series: 2011:18. Gotenborg: QOG institute; 2011.
  12. Hunter C. Defining the public health model for the child welfare services context (NCPC Resource Sheet). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies; 2011. https://aifs.gov.au/cfca/publications/defining-public-health-model-child-welfare-services-context.
  13. Katikireddi SV, Bond L, Hilton S. Changing policy framing as a deliberate strategy for public health advocacy: a qualitative policy case study of minimum unit pricing of alcohol. Milbank Q. 2014;92(2):250-283. doi:10.1111/1468-0009.12057
  14. Gender, equity and human rights: Tackling corruption in the health sector to leave no one behind. WHO website. https://www.who.int/gender-equity-rights/news/anti-corruption-transparency-accountability-in-health-systems/en/. Accessed  November 1, 2019.