Ukraine's efforts to battle corruption: Ukraine's medicine bill slashed by 25% after UK firm brought in to handle procurement - Guardian

13:00 Aug. 23, 2016

Ukraine's medicine bill slashed by 25% after UK firm brought in to handle procurement - Guardian

Ukrainian doctors operate on a patient in a hospital in Kyiv, Ukraine (AP photo)

Crown Agents and two UN agencies are working to root out corrupt intermediaries but are facing political resistance to change

A British company hired to buy medicine for Ukraine's health ministry has succeeded in cutting prices by up to a quarter, in a rare success for anti-corruption efforts.

Last year, under pressure from activists demanding action against graft, the health ministry brought in Crown Agents, a non-profit development company that specialises in the procurement of medicines, and two UN agencies, in the hope this would both lower prices and drive corrupt intermediaries out of business.

Public anger over corruption was a major cause of Ukraine's 2014 revolution. Shady middlemen dominated state procurement, using offshore companies to syphon cash to insiders, while inflating prices the government paid for crucial goods.

On the eve of the uprising, Transparency International rated Ukraine alongside Nigeria and Iran on its Corruption Perceptions Index.

Christine Jackson, the senior procurement expert who signed Crown Agents' contract last November, said: "In the main, I think progress has gone very well."

The British team is supplying Ukrainian doctors with cancer medicines, while the UN agencies are procuring HIV/AIDS medicines and vaccines. Jackson said preliminary figures suggested a saving of 20% to 25%.

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