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Corruption during the Covid-19 Crisis Response in Uganda and its Implications for the Right to Health, pp. 84 - 108

Uganda’s Covid-19 crisis response involved the mobilisation of resources from the international community and the private sector. The Ugandan parliament also appropriated a supplementary budget towards the response. To expedite the procurement of essential goods and supplies by government agencies, some public procurement procedures were not followed. As a result, tender prices were rigged, and the quality of products supplied was compromised. Fake vaccines were also sold to unsuspecting recipients. This article contends that acts of corruption did not only compromise health outcomes but also denied potential beneficiaries the right to health.

This was despite existing anti-corruption laws and legal institutions. Some corruption-related suspects were arrested and prosecuted. Apart from that, private health facilities charged Covid-19 patients very high medical fees by taking advantage of the limited capacity of public facilities. This happened because of the lack of regulation of medical services by the Ministry of Health and the Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioners Council, which led to a public outcry. Despite the existence of a legal regime, acts of corruption still occurred. It was observed that the laws on corruption are weak and lack effective implementation, and that there is poor coordination between watchdog agencies. Dealing effectively with corruption requires strengthening anti-corruption laws, enacting laws to regulate emergency procurement, improving coordination among watchdog agencies, addressing political and bureaucratic constraints, integrating health systems governance into the overall health system, strengthening, empowering and supporting civil society activities, making information available, and ensuring effective implementation of the law.

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