Progress from the IAB Network on corruption

- Bela Blasszauer, Ph.D.,

Medical University of Pecs, Pecs, Szigeti u 12, 7624 Hungary

Eubios Ethics Institute Newsletter 4 (July, 1994) 43.

The network on "Petty corruption and honesty in all health care system" so far exists in 12 countries, that have expressed interest in it. The title of the network gives the impression as if there were no major corruption in health care systems, which is unfortunately not always true. A questionnaire, to get some preliminary impressions, has been made, as announced earlier in the EEIN. Of course, this questionnaire will be improved as we go along. The countries that have filled it out: The Netherlands, Hungary, Greece, Denmark, Turkey, Rumania and the USA. Those who asked but have not yet returned it are: Australia, France, Brazil, India, Philippines and Sri Lanka.

The preliminary results might be summarized as follows: Problems:
* the individual respondents might be highly subjective
* respondents may not know how the health care system operates
* respondents might be careful not to make their country look bad
* the questionnaire may contain very sensitive statements/questions
Some preliminary conclusions that can be drawn so far:
* the most problematic issue everywhere seems to be experiments on humans, and scientific fraud
* there are obvious and striking similarities in the former Communist countries
* the violation of norms as well as honesty in health care system seem to be very much connected with the level of democracy and/or the extent and effectiveness of professional and public control

Another problem here is that there are many Western drug companies doing aggressive "promotion". They rely on physicians by bribes and hundreds of ways to sell their products. It is physicians who make the profit and not indirectly via hospitals as you have mentioned in Japan. These former Communist countries are excellent ground also to carry out numerous "drug trials". In the meantime we have lots of people (millions), especially the elderly who face the tragic dilemma of whether to buy food or to take the necessary drug. There are some fair dealing drug companies too, which take local research ethics committees seriously, and force researchers to seek their approval.

We would welcome further extension of the network to other countries. Hopefully in Argentina at the IAB Congress there will be possibilities to recruit more people for the network. I feel that the interest in the topic is unusually great. One of the next steps should be to collect documents from all over the world about actual cases of corruption. My final aim is to uncover the connection between corruption and health status of a nation.

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