Corruption in crosshairs as top anti-graft body probes hospital heads, kickbacks
After only one month, steady progress is being made in the yearlong anti-corruption drive targeting medical malpractice, the National Health Commission said on Tuesday.
The campaign, initiated in early July by the commission and nine other government departments, pledges to cover the entire chain of production, distribution, sales, use and reimbursement in the medical industry, as well as relevant parties from administrative departments and hospitals to associations and drugmakers.
Since the launch of the campaign, China's top anti-graft body, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China and the National Commission of Supervision, has requested a doubling of efforts in clamping down on corrupt practices. Provincial-level authorities have also formulated their own rectification plans and relevant institutions and enterprises have begun internal examinations, the health commission said.
"The anti-corruption drive has gained widespread consensus among the medical industry and a rigorous attitude has been widely adopted," said the commission in a notice released on its official website.
"The next step is to step up handling and reporting of typical corruption issues," it said.
The number of hospital heads and Party secretaries being put under investigation has risen rapidly since July, and the total so far this year has topped 180, according to figures compiled by media outlet Shangyou News.
The commission said that acts of corruption in the medical sector have offset the outcomes of healthcare reforms and eroded the rights and interests of the public.
Typical cases involve personnel in key positions accepting kickbacks and bribes and conducting rent-seeking — an illegal behavior of growing one's wealth without any productivity contribution.
"Such practices have not only hampered the development of medical, healthcare insurance and pharmaceutical industries, but have also tarnished the image of these industries and hurt the interests of the majority involved," said the commission.
In addition to irregular practices such as selling drugs at higher prices and bribing doctors, the commission said it will also investigate issues related to the use of healthcare insurance and the integrity of medical workers.
The drive has stirred up discussions on the legitimacy and practices surrounding academic conferences as a number of them have been delayed or canceled citing the anticorruption efforts.
"Academic conferences and activities that abide by the regulations should be supported and encouraged, but practices that use fake academic meetings to cover up illegal transferring of benefits and divvying up sponsorship fees should be rectified," it said.