CONCLUDED OVER 18,000 CONTRACTS: Reduced transparency and competitiveness of tenders in public health, creates opportunity for corruption

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The level of transparency in publishing information on the conducted public procurement procedures in health institutions shows a decreasing trend. This is shown by the monitoring of the Association for Emancipation, Solidarity and Equality of Women (ESE), which in the period from 2016 to 2019 continuously monitored the public procurement process in 62 health institutions.

The institutions for these four years, according to ESE, have concluded more than 18,000 contracts for procurement of goods and services and for performance of works, for which they have spent over 300 million euros.

In 2019, the largest decrease in the volume of published information on the conducted public procurement procedures were registered with the Ministry of Health, the University Clinic for Gynecology and Obstetrics, general and clinical hospitals, public health centers and the Institute of Public Health. Additionally, the analysis notes that from year to year the competitiveness decreases, ie a smaller number of companies participate in tenders and win the business, which in itself creates greater opportunities for corruption and abuse, according to ESE.

– Public money spent on public procurement is increasing, but not the quality of health services that patients receive. There is a lack of medicines and medical equipment, there are long waiting lists that are in fact a painful everyday life for patients, says Darko Antic from the ESE Association.

According to the ESE Association, it is necessary to introduce a company selection system that will be based on criteria for maximizing the results and effects of public procurement and will replace the lowest price as the sole criterion.

– Even if there is no obvious corruption, citizens should know that their money is spent properly and for the benefit of those who need it most. Patients’ needs should be a priority for health centers, clinics and hospitals, says Debbie Budlander, an international expert on gender responsive budgeting.

The research shows that most of the public procurement contracts take place in the first and fourth quarter of the year, which shows that the public health institutions do not have an annual procurement plan or do not adhere to it, reads the statement from ESE.