The following has been published by The Control and Anti-Corruption Authority (Nazaha) with reference to Transparency International’s “Corruption and the Coronavirus” feature, published on 18th March 2020.
Transparency International’s article provides an overview of the most salient corruption risks which countries could face in their fight against the Coronavirus pandemic. The following is a summary of the most prominent points in the report:
-The extraordinary outbreak of Coronavirus exposes cracks in health systems around the world, highlighting the potential risks of, and opportunities for corruption. Corrupt acts undermine the response to the pandemic, depriving people of essential health care when it is needed the most.
-Corruption often thrives in times of crises, particularly when control and state agencies are weak and public trust is low.
-There are a number of countries that suffer from a shortage of drugs and medical supplies due to Coronavirus. This may increase the risk of bribery, as heath officials could be bribed into prioritizing medical care for certain patients, to the neglect of others.
- In these circumstances, Transparency International urges governments to:
* Enhance transparency in procurement and contracting processes for medicines and vaccines
* Prevent price gouging of drugs and medical supplies
* Provide timely information regarding potential shortages of important drugs
* Do more to prevent the spread of misleading information
* Protect whistleblowers in their efforts to save lives
* Mitigate the risk of bribery in hospitals and healthcare centers
* Track and monitor outgoing funds for treatment and vaccine development
The Control and Anti-Corruption Authority appreciates the role of Transparency International in highlighting the risks of corruption in healthcare services around the world. It also affirms that proactive measures were taken across the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's 2030 programs and initiatives to enhance transparency, develop appropriate policies and procedures, and fill gaps in the provision of public services which could be exploited through corruption. All human and material capabilities, as feasible, have been leveraged to provide free of charge integrated healthcare, in accordance with the best international standards and practices, to all citizens and residents. This includes provision of services to those in violation of residency laws, without any legal or financial consequences.
The Authority commends the efforts made by all competent authorities to ensure the safety and comfort of all citizens and residents. In particular, the Authority commends the efforts of the Ministry of Health in using modern technology to provide free medical consultations around the clock, providing electronic medical prescriptions to patients, and delivering them to their homes free of charge without needing to visit hospitals or medical centers. The Authority also commends employees of health, security and supervisory entities concerned with protecting the rights of consumers for their professionalism in ensuring maintenance of food and medical supplies.
The Authority affirms that these efforts form only part of the humanitarian provided by the government of the Kingdom, whether for the countries where this epidemic is spreading or the World Health Organization (WHO) in their fight against the pandemic. The Kingdom’s response is in line with recommendations arising from the G20 Summit that was extraordinarily held and chaired by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques on 2632020, to promote international cooperation in tackling this pandemic.
The Authority also confirms that the policies and procedures of government agencies in the Kingdom are clear and transparent and are subject to oversight by the competent authorities. This prevents exploitation of the crisis by those seeking personal gain through continuous and direct follow-up from His Highness the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, implementing the directives of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz.
Nazaha expresses its satisfaction with efforts made by authorities in the Kingdom to fight the Coronavirus pandemic in a transparent manner. Nazaha also notes the general satisfaction of citizens and residents with the efforts made by competent authorities and the cooperation of such authorities with the World Health Organization. It hopes that these efforts will result in meeting the aspirations of the Kingdom’s wise leadership to eliminate this pandemic.