Combatting corruption — a critical challenge to global health efforts — requires collaborative international action, according to a new report co-authored by researcher Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH).
In the article, published in Science Translational Medicine, Dr. Taryn Vian, clinical professor of global health at BUSPH, and colleagues examined the ways in which corruption can prevent the achievement of positive health outcomes. The authors argued for the need to design and implement anti-corruption tools specifically tailored to the needs of global health organizations.
“Health-related corruption negatively affects society in areas of economic growth, development, security, and population health,” The authors wrote. “Health sector susceptibility to corruption is accentuated by system complexity, large public spending, market uncertainty, information asymmetry, and many actors, all of which conspire to obstruct anti-corruption efforts.”
As the global community continues to invest billions in global health, the authors recommend examining the effectiveness of existing strategies to tackle corruption. They also highlight the need to assess the use of emerging anti-corruption tools, including social networks to raise awareness, social media to conduct surveillance, algorithmic big-data mining to detect fraud, and technologies used by pharmaceutical companies to authenticate and track medications.
In 2015, the United Nations (UN) demonstrated its commitment to improve health and achieve justice and accountability by adopting Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 3 and 6, respectively. But the authors noted that the two goals, in isolation, failed to address the consequences of global health corruption. They called for the UN Inter-agency Expert Group on SDGs Indicators to create a working group, in collaboration with UN agencies and other stakeholders, to develop a set of specific sub-indicators on global health corruption to be incorporated into the existing SDGs framework.