Fraud and corruption in healthcare services around the world significantly reduced delivery of COVID-19-related healthcare during the month of April and contributed to COVID-19 mortality in every third country surveyed, according to a new study from NEMEXIS.
NEMEXIS, an international anti-fraud consulting firm based in Berlin, reported fraud and corruption affecting healthcare and healthcare systems spurred whistleblower activity in half of the 58 countries in the survey.
“This is currently the largest survey on fraud, waste, and corruption affecting healthcare systems across the globe while the world battles COVID-19,” says Dr. Paul Milata, the managing partner of NEMEXIS and one of the authors of the survey. “It is the first study based almost exclusively on input from anti-fraud specialists—one of the professional groups most likely to have relevant information on the issue at hand. The survey shows areas of common concern where further investigation is needed.”
Suppression of whistleblowers who gave early warnings of the virus was mentioned in almost a quarter of the countries surveyed. According to the report, whistleblower suppression is the single most important fraud-related factor in the spread of COVID-19, as other studies have amply demonstrated the paramount importance of early detection.
“With retaliation against COVID-19 healthcare whistleblowers appearing in almost half of the countries in this survey, the time is now for national governments to enact new whistleblower protections," says John Kostyack, executive director of the National Whistleblower Center based in Washington, D.C.. "Silencing whistleblowers means that problems with delivering COVID-19 healthcare services are being left unaddressed. We cannot allow a single individual to die of COVID-19 because of suppression of healthcare industry whistleblowers.”
The most widespread problem outlined in the report is fraud involving personal-protective equipment or PPE, which appeared in 81% of the countries surveyed. Black markets were reported from 62% of countries, followed by embezzlement, faulty equipment, and cyber-attacks.