Letters Corruption in medicine

An Italian initiative to prevent corruption in health and social care

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g4595 (Published 15 July 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g4595
  1. Luca De Fiore, volunteer supporter1,
  2. Vittorio De Micheli, volunteer supporter1,
  3. Massimo Brunetti, volunteer supporter1,
  4. Leonardo Ferrante, volunteer supporter1,
  5. Chiara Rivoiro, volunteer supporter1,
  6. Valentina Solfrini, volunteer supporter1,
  7. Giulia Corti, coordinating editor1,
  8. Nerina Dirindin, volunteer supporter1
  1. 1Illuminiamo la Salute Project, Corso Trapani 91/B, 10141 Torino, Italy
  1. gl.defiore{at}gmail.com

Country profiles from the watchdog Transparency International show a high level of citizen reported corruption in Italy.1 The problem is associated with the activity of criminal organisations, such as the Mafia, N’drangheta, and Camorra, which originated in the south of the country but are now active across the whole nation. As in other countries, healthcare is particularly affected,2 as the recent shocking corruption scandal related to Expo 2014 has shown.

A new law was enacted in December 2012 (190/2012), which demands that central and local government must prevent corruption. Unfortunately, this law is mostly applied bureaucratically.

For this reason, we have launched a national initiative, called Illuminiamo la Salute (Illuminate Health; www.illuminiamolasalute.it), against corruption in health and social care in Italy, which is sustained by citizen associations working for integrity and transparency. We highlighted two main risk factors for corruption: conflicts of interest and asymmetric information.

The Italian health service has a good reputation owing to high quality medical care and low healthcare expenditure. Nevertheless, the campaign aims to improve the health service by reducing the negative impact of corruption on people’s wellbeing and focusing on positive behaviours that can prevent corruption.

The initiative also aims to train medical students in matters related to integrity and transparency, because they will have a key role in fighting corruption in the future. Professional standards of conduct must be introduced early in the health curriculum. For professionals working in the health service, rules similar to those of the US Sunshine Act should be introduced to enable the Italian healthcare system to be more accountable. Participation, through an active presence in the social media, will also play a crucial part.


Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g4595



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