E-drug: Corruption - single greatest barrier to development
The story on fraud in Global Fund grants refers.
There are lots of behaviours that are in fact corruption
defined as when a public official is influenced to do or not
do what he/she is supposed to do. Both the influenced and
the influencer are engaging in corruption - the form of
corruption as a payment, a job, business deflected to a
family business and the like are just the manner of payment.
There are also behaviours that are called corruption when
they are not but rather are weak systems that allow for poor
performance and finally outright theft when a public
official or private citizen takes money intended for other
purpose. This is not corruption but plain old crime.
It is important to know which it is because when it is is
outright corruption, there are steps that can be taken to
reduce this scourge which the World Bank says is the single
greatest barrier to development. The Global Fund and other
donors should demand that any recipient engages in steps to
reduce and eliminate corruption. And all MOH should
undertake this themselves.
Much has been learned about how to combat corruption. I refer
to the WHO and that of the UN. The work of the WHO unit on
governance in the pharmaceutical sector is well worth the
read and for those who have not yet undergone the assessment
time should be allocated to do so. There is guidance on
steps to be taken once the weak points are known. Check out
The Global Fund should require each recipient to undertake
an assessment and a plan for remediation as part of the grant.
This is an essential dimension of capacity building.
There is a clear work plan delineated in the UN Convention
Against Corruption (CAC) signed by 148 states.
There are significant tool kits and resources available at
the UN Office on Crime and Drugs. Good thinking has gone
into this body of law which obligates states to enact
certain laws such as making bribery a crime and having an
office on corruption. The requirements in the end demand
there are adequate laws and regulations and that these are
enforced. That means that even the highest officials who do
engage in corruption will face prosecution. A front page
photo of a lawless public official who sticks his or her
hand in the cookie jar will go a long way to stopping this
bad behaviour. Neither the Global Fund nor any ministry of
health should try to go it alone on this matter and but
rather should take advantage of this good work. The Global
Fund should also require compliance with CAC obligations as
a condition of its loan.
We demand good clinical, manufacturing and other practices
why not demand ethical behaviour?
Michele Forzley, JD, MPH
Global Public Health Lawyer, Consultant & Professor Widener
School of Law
Protecting public health with governance and rule of law
9039 Sligo Creek Pkwy Unit 1808
Silver Spring, MD 20901