Thu, Apr 12, 2018 - Page 9 News List

Internationally, health systems need to be treated for corruption

By Sania Nishtar

With broad agreement on the need to combat corruption in the health sector, the harder challenge will be developing workable remedies. National treasuries, finance ministries and anti-corruption agencies need to strengthen their efforts to cooperate on prevention, detection and enforcement.

Improving transparency in financial systems could also help curb corruption, while civil-society groups, journalists and patients should push for greater accountability from governments and medical providers.

In the future, new technologies, such as data mining, artificial intelligence and blockchain, could offer new ways to detect wrongdoing in the health sector; these and other tools should be investigated fully.

Expanding healthcare access and protecting the sector’s finances are dual challenges that the international community must address together. There is an urgent need to act without delay.

Rates of noncommunicable diseases, such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, are increasing almost exponentially, and lack of access to quality care will add to many countries’ governance challenges.

Development strategists understand that poor health is a harbinger of poverty and a barrier to eliminating it. Today, about 800 million people spend at least 10 percent of their household budgets on health, often going into debt to fund the treatment they need.

That so many people cannot afford to visit a doctor is truly shameful. The world needs universal health coverage; but to achieve it, the world’s health sector must undergo treatment of its own.

Sania Nishtar is a cochair of the WHO’s Independent High-level Commission on Noncommunicable Diseases, a former federal minister of Pakistan, and the founder and president of Heartfile.

Copyright: Project Syndicate

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