Corruption develops even more in times of crisis, especially when institutions and oversight are weak and public confidence is low, according to a study by the Cyprus Integrity Forum (CIF) entitled “The need for transparency in the age of COVID pandemic” -19: The escalation of the timeless phenomenon of corruption in times of crisis “.
According to the study, during crises, such as the outbreak of a deadly virus, the risk of corruption in health care is exacerbated by dramatically increased pressure on the system. Disturbance, uncertainty and disorientation contribute to an environment in which corrupt people can take advantage of the crisis to their advantage.
It is important to maintain and expand transparency, openness and integrity throughout the health sector. There are several critical measures that can be taken against corruption, including the open publication of research on vaccines and treatments, the protection of public interest whistleblowers in health systems, and the provision of equal access to life-saving therapy.
However, as mentioned, the need for transparency and accountability goes beyond health systems themselves.
Speaking to KYPE, CIF Board Chairman Marios Skandalis said that “the Covid 19 pandemic is not exclusively a major health challenge for the whole world, but at the same time an opportunity for all governments and partners to try their effective will to manage the various parallel losses created primarily by the economy. It is precisely this global challenge that will highlight the true honesty and transparency of what is often said by all governments around the world. “
“The will and policy pursued to date by the Government of Cyprus to manage this virus has proved to be quite successful, ranking our Cyprus as one of the safest countries in the world, leaving behind countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, France. Spain, etc. “, he noted.
He stated that “what we are expected to show now is our effective will for rationalization and full transparency, management of these damages caused by this pandemic, especially in the economic sector. Easy solutions There are many but really transparent and timeless fixed solutions very few.
Which are not prone to various forms of corruption and which will not perpetuate the stigma of social inequality and lack of real integrity. These few solutions also need the appropriate political courage and morality to implement them. “
The specific study of the Cyprus Integrity Forum, he said, “highlights the pitfalls that must be avoided in order to preserve the sustainability of our country, social equality and environmental integrity and above all to preserve the prestige of our country as a state of law and morality and not as a center of opportunistic corruption as various have accused us of in the past and are waiting for the opportunity to do the same in the future. “
“This is a great opportunity to highlight our new Cyprus and we expect that the moves of the government and our various partners will be commensurate with the effective moves taken since day one to manage the virus,” he added.
As the Cyprus Integrity Forum, he concluded, “We will support such effective measures, but at the same time we will remain strict judges in case of promotion of opportunistic or ineffective measures that will jeopardize the prestige and reputation of our country and perpetuate the accusations of previous years in based on a lack of transparency, sustainability, timeless stability and ethics. “
According to the study, the Council of Europe’s Anti-Corruption Group (GRECO) has published guidelines aimed at its 50 member states to prevent corruption in the context of the health emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. .
It is noted that the guidelines issued by GRECO President Marin Mrčela emphasize that the pandemic increases the risks of corruption. The healthcare sector is particularly exposed, especially due to the growing need for emergency medical supplies and the simplification of procurement rules, the need to find facilities and overloaded medical staff.
The GRECO president said that “decisions related to the measures taken by the central, regional and local authorities to deal with the pandemic must be transparent and subject to supervision and accountability.” Public health witnesses must be protected. “
It is important to note that transparency in the public sector is one of the most important means of preventing corruption, regardless of its form. “The need for regular and reliable information from public organizations is vital in times of emergency. This concerns the spread and risks of the pandemic itself, but also the extraordinary measures that have been taken to address them. We must not allow COVID-19 to jeopardize our values and standards, including transparency and accountability. “Digital information platforms, such as special transparency portals, are valuable tools for preventing corruption and helping to protect the rule of law.”
Corruption practices may affect the public or private sector and be linked to the procurement system, bribery in medical services and corruption in research and development of new products, including conflicts of interest and the role of interest groups. There is also the risk of fraud involving the marketing of counterfeit medical products, which in turn poses serious risks to public health.
In the midst of this unprecedented crisis, governments across Europe are stepping up their efforts to combat the global spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, taking various measures to support public health systems, the economy and the economy. ensuring public order and security.
According to the study, identifying the risks of corruption before they occur can help boost the global response and provide health care to those who need it most.
It is important, as mentioned, that governments act in an open and transparent manner in order to build and maintain citizens’ trust. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, we need to have open and honest discussions about the vulnerabilities of health systems that make them more vulnerable to corruption, he added.
As the Cyprus Integrity Forum concludes, the study concludes, “We remain at the forefront of making sure that transparency remains the most important precedent and starting point for rationalizing any challenge, even this serious pandemic, and we are ready to provide any assistance and direction to both.” citizens as well as in the business world of Cyprus in this direction “.