The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, Dainius Puras, has called on States to provide bold leadership to confront corruption and its severe impact on the right to health, including more protection for ‘whistleblowers’ and empowering the public to report corruption.

“In many countries, health is among the most corrupt sectors,” Mr. Puras told the UN General Assembly in New York, presenting his report on corruption. “This has significant implications for equality and non-discrimination, since it has a particularly marked impact on the health of populations in situations of vulnerability and social exclusion, in particular children and people living in poverty.”

Normalization

Mr. Puras said there were domestic and global root causes of corruption, including some related to the pharmaceutical industry and some of which resulted in “institutional corruption”. All had to be tackled through legal, policy and programming measures, he said.

The Special Rapporteur stressed that there is a “normalization” of corruption in healthcare, involving not just corruption that clearly breaks the law, but practices which undermine the principles of medical ethics, social justice, transparency and effective healthcare provision. “Three main characteristics make the health sector particularly vulnerable to corruption: power asymmetries and imbalance of information, uncertainty inherent in selecting, monitoring, measuring and delivering health-care services, and complexity of health systems,” he said.

Pharmaceutical industry

“I strongly encourage States to raise awareness among healthcare providers of unethical practices and situations of conflict of interest, while health system users should be empowered to report corrupt acts,” he said. For this, the population needs to be informed of its rights, educated to identify corrupt acts, and protected when they report. I also urge all relevant stakeholders to address, through legal, policy and other measures, corrupt practices taking place in all stage of the pharmaceutical value chain, including during research and development, manufacturing, registration, distribution, procurement and marketing of medicines.”

Source and more information: Press Release United Nations

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