March 19, 2019
The Ignored Pandemic
Universal health coverage, meaning that all individuals and communities can access essential quality health services without suffering financial hardship, has become the top priority of the World Health Organisation. Achieving the ambitious goal of universal health coverage will require more resources, and the better use of existing resources.
At the same time, efforts to achieve universal health coverage are being significantly undermined by widespread corruption in frontline healthcare service delivery. Corruption in the health sector kills an estimated 140,000 children a year, fuels the global rise in anti-microbial resistance, and hinders the fight against HIV/AIDS and other diseases. Unless the most harmful forms of corruption are curbed, universal health coverage is unlikely to be achieved.
Based on an extensive review of the literature, this report seeks to open a new page by taking a fresh look at the evidence on corruption and anti-corruption. It explores the drivers, prevalence, and impact of corruption at the service delivery level. In many countries, deep structural problems drive frontline healthcare workers to absent themselves from work, solicit gifts and extort bribes from patients, steal medicines, and abuse their positions of power in a variety of other ways, usually without facing any consequences.