Acton Institute Powerblog

Corruption in Health Care

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Transparency International is a group devoted to exposing corruption of all kinds. One of the most sickening forms of corruption in many poor countries is health care corruption. One sort of corruption is absentee-ism: medical personel bill for their services even when they aren’t at work, but are doing another job.

The increasingly large and legal market for pharmaceutical drugs is attracting criminal activity. Pharmaceuticals are high value and easily portable, and the penalty for stealing or smuggling them is far lower than for narcotics, so trade is brisk. This is especially the case in Africa where borders are porous to those prepared to pay bribes. Furthermore pharmaceutical markets are segmented internationally since companies recouping research and development costs want to charge efficient prices in vastly different settings for products with very low marginal costs. Antiretrovirals (ARVs) to treat HIV have 20-fold price differentials between western and African countries, which mean illegal but massive arbitrage possibilities exist for smugglers.

Once again, lack of virtue retards economic development.

Jennifer Roback Morse


  • Daryl


    The lack of social virtue spawns an seemingly endless stream of malign phenomena.

    Another which also directly impacts healthcare in sub-Saharan Africa and in the Islamic World is professional flight. The majority of newly graduated and desperately healthcare professionals in many Third World countries emigrate to the United States, Japan, or the safest and most prosperous countries of Europe.

    Our media focuses on the flight of the uneducated and the desperately poor from the kleptocracies and despotisms into our House of Plenty. It hypocritically almost completely ignores the enormous benefits this country, and European countries receive from the arrival of skilled nurses from The Philippines, doctors from Lebanon, etc..

    We wouldn’t be needing this transfusion if so many of our own best and brightest weren’t receiving their degrees in Gay and Ethnic Studies, Modern Interpretive Dance, and Literature of Psychobabble.