Thursday, November 30, 2006

Report from the 12th International Anti-Corruption Conference: "Corrupting Health"

Last week, I was privileged to attend the 12th International Anti-Corruption Conference in Guatemala City, Guatemala. It was gratifying to be at a meeting of over 1200 people from over 100 countries who were all focussed on challenging corruption wherever it may be found. Some of the attendees had truly risked their lives to this end. One vivid example was the recipient of the 2006 Transparency International Integrity Award, Peruvian prosecutor Dr Ana Cecilia Magallanes Cortez, who fought corruption at the highest levels in here country's government, leading to the arrest of former president Alberto Fujimori.

A considerable amount of the meeting's program content seemed relevant to the issues we discuss on Health Care Renewal. I will report back on some particular issues in this regard in the near future.

I was also privileged to to participate in a workshop at the meeting on health care corruption. Our workshop leader, Roger Bate, has kindly posted a summary of what we were up to on TechCentralStation, entitled "Corrupting Health."

The summary rightly emphasized the substantial problem of government-focused corruption in developing countries, based on one definition of corruption used by Transparency International, "the use of public office to further private gains."

I must qualify one statement in the summary attributed to me, that "major corruption is estimated to be low in the US in the health sector." Given the definition of corruption above, and certainly relative to the role of governments in health care in developing countries, that statement is reasonable. However, I would point out that an alternative definition of corruption, ethical rather than legal, found in the Executive Summary of the 2006 Transparency International report on global health care corruption, is "the abuse of entrusted power for private gain." By that definition, corruption in US health care may not be so rare. See Health Care Renewal for examples.

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