Press release 15th Oct 2020

UN statement on corruption and COVID-19 is too little too late

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October 15 – The UN Secretary General’s statement on the impact of corruption on COVID-19 response is a welcome, but extremely late, intervention to a life-and-death issue impacting millions of people around the world, according to Transparency International’s Health Initiative.

In a video message released today, António Guterres described how corruption has hamstrung efforts to address the pandemic and called on governments around the world to “combat corruption with new heights of resolve” through transparency and accountability.


Rachel Cooper, Director of Transparency International’s Health Initiative, said:

“While it is encouraging to see the UN throw its weight behind this hugely important issue, the fact this it has taken this long to publicly address corruption and COVID-19 means this is too little too late. We have known for some time that 140,000 children every year die from corruption in healthcare, and our research has shown how it is preventing millions of people from receiving vital treatment and care. These human and financial costs will only have worsened during the pandemic as the corrupt take advantage of the perfect storm of disruption, uncertainty and urgent need.

“It is vital that we tackle corruption if our health systems are to be fit for the future. Key to this is ensuring that anti-corruption measures are included in all health system-related policies, practices and interventions. This is all the more important now if the COVID-19 response is to be safe, effective and benefit as many people as possible.”


Transparency International’s Health Initiative is working to improve transparency and accountability of health procurement to tackle the estimated 10% to 25% from contracts estimated to be lost to corruption every year.

We work with countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia to improve health procurement, reducing corruption vulnerabilities, and improving the efficiency of health systems- ensuring that countries are better able to tackle COVID-19, and attain the highest attainable standard of health for their citizens.




Notes to editors:


  • Through chapters in more than 100 countries, Transparency International has been leading the fight against corruption for the last 27 years.
  • Transparency International’s Health Initiative works to achieve genuine change in the pharmaceutical and healthcare sector through reducing corruption and promoting transparency, integrity and accountability.



Harvey Gavin

+44 (0)20 3096 7695 
+44 (0)79 6456 0340