Vitaliy Shabunin and Dmytro Sherembey: Corruption at the Ministry of Healthcare is the weapon of mass destruction for Ukrainians

Kyiv, 1 April 2014 – Competition imitation, trade secrets abuse and artificial price increase of medicine constitute real threat to life and health of Ukrainians who became hostages to corruption schemes of the Healthcare Ministry.

Vitaliy Shabunin, Head of Anti-Corruption Action Center NGO and Dmytro Sherembey, Head of Charitable Foundation “Patients of Ukraine” at the briefing in the Ukraine Crisis Media Center addressed the Healthcare Ministry with a request to change procurement rules for vitally important HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis medicine. “We have a big problem now – no one linked to corruption schemes has been fired or arrested yet. We hope that the reason for that is lack of time, and later these people will be punished. In two weeks medicine procurement will start, if by that time corruption schemes of the Healthcare Ministry are not broken thousands of Ukrainians will find themselves under a death threat”, noted Vitaliy Shabunin.

The fraud scales of state medicine procurement are impressive. At the briefing the speakers presented corruption schemes at the Healthcare Ministry identified through a research:

–          Holding a tender among companies controlled by one owner

–          Cartel plots by several companies controlled by different owners in agreement among one another while bidding

–          Turning “Indar” state pharmaceutical factory into an intermediary that buys medicine from offshore companies and supplies them to the state by overstated prices

–          Corruption gap due to the Registry of wholesale and retail prices which does not control pricing process for medicine procured.

According to Dmytro Sherembey, these corruption schemes could be overcome by total openness of bidding and procurement. “Monitors from public organizations have to be working at all tender stages and have to control both work of the Registry and of procurement commissions. We also suggest introducing the so-called e-bidding to fully exclude human factor during bidding. It is not an ideal option but it will help reduce corruption risks and will turn the Healthcare Ministry into a structure that really safeguards health of Ukrainians and not enriches itself on it”. First steps have already been made in this direction, at the activists’ request prior to start of procurement procedures Healthcare Ministry made public protocols of procurement committee meetings. “Openness of decisions by Healthcare Ministry on vitally important medicine will save hundreds of lives”, comments Vitaliy Shabunin. In his opinion the Healthcare Ministry’s next step should be changes to work of the Registry for wholesale-retail prices and excise duties increase on alcohol and cigarettes. “Changes in the work of the Registry will help avoid artificial increase of prices while rising the excise duties will help increase the budget of the Healthcare Ministry. However these initiatives should come from the Ministry not from NGOs”, comments Mr. Shabunin.

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