The Action on Accountability and Anti-corruption for SDGs (AAA-SDG) Thematic Working Group (TWG) focuses on increasing the understanding of the drivers of poor accountability and corruption within health systems and the systemic structures that allow it to thrive.
The SDGs provide an opportunity to rethink how health and development goals are achieved. They recognise the importance of effective governance, based on rule of law, as a cross-cutting enabler of development and the achievement of UHC. Governance is multifaceted and includes efforts to design and implement policies, to effectively allocate resources and to foster collaboration among multiple actors. Poor accountability is particularly experienced at the service frontline, disproportionally affecting access and quality of care for the poorest groups.
Advances in accountability and anti-corruption research provide new ways to ensure that major obstacles hindering UHC can be overcome. The recent definition of corruption – ‘The abuse or complicity in abuse, of public or private position, power or authority to benefit oneself, a group, an organization or others close to oneself in a way which diverts institutions from their core aims’ – is shifting the attention from individuals to institutions, recognising that unaccountable and corrupt practices are enabled by ineffective systems and political and professional networks. Increasingly, research is highlighting informal practices and norms that shape what solutions are possible.
Evidence on anti-corruption solutions, such as strategies that have achieved clear and sustained results, is scarce. During the Covid-19 pandemic, poor accountability in contracting, safeguarding resources, and politically influenced decisions have constrained responses worldwide. We see a clear shift in the global debate. At HSR2018, there were only a few sessions dedicated to anti-corruption, while at HSR2020, it featured as a subtheme (‘Engaging political forces’) with multiple sessions.
The TWG AAA-SDG will document local strategies and lessons learned, crowdsource successful and novel initiatives to counter these practices, and empower action through collaborations and outreach with a wide range of actors across and beyond the health sector. There is an urgent need for sustained dialogue and this TWG will build on and catalyse strong interest among its membership and constituencies.
- Generate knowledge on the manifestations of poor accountability and corruption across different settings. We will include calls for submission of evidence on AAA to be hosted on an open access repository jointly with WHO ACTA Alliance, supporting members to develop evidence synthesis and sessions with interdisciplinary researchers/practitioners to conceptualise the research agenda and develop funding proposals. Leads: Dr Eleanor Hutchinson and Pamela Ogbozor
- Promote co-production of novel accountability and anti-corruption strategies that can work in different contexts. We will conduct regional/country-level dialogues to discuss novel AAA strategies, write up ‘success stories’ of what has worked and why, crowdsourcing and story-telling and listening events to showcase experiences at the frontline especially among marginalised communities. Leads: Dr Ankita Meghani and Prince Agnu
- Support HSG member capacity development. We will hold seminars/podcasts on multi-disciplinary approaches and methods to study accountability and corruption, work with training organisations (e.g., U4) to expand access to training for HSG members (especially women and junior researchers), promote peer mentoring and exchange. Leads: Ms Sarah Steingrüber and Charles Orjiakor
- Mobilising HSG Members and Constituents for policy engagement and AAA advocacy. We will host webinars/interviews/debates and develop policymaker fora to debate feasible solutions – jointly with WHO ACTA Alliance and Transparency International Global Health Programme, support members support to document and publish experience in AAA. Lead: Jonathan Cushing.
The TWG membership will reach out to diverse communities in the field of health and public policy: researcher organisations; civil society and non-governmental organizations; UN agencies, including the WHO; governments; the private sector; and the media. Specifically, we aim to engage policy actors and will involve early career researchers and members from LMICs; women, from underrepresented communities and regions where HPSR capacity is weaker.