(DF) Bulgarians Tend to See Healthcare System as Particularly Prone to Graft

November 6 (BTA) – Over 60 per cent of Bulgarians believe that the healthcare system has one of the highest levels of corruption compared with other domains, according to a nationwide representative survey commissioned by the Bulgarian Institute for Legal Initiatives (BILI) and conducted by the Global Metrics polling agency. Some 56 per cent of respondents in the poll say that graft in the healthcare sector is related both to public procurement and to the provision of public health services. Another 17 per cent hold that it is related only to the provision of services, and 16 per cent say it is related mainly to the implementation of the Public Procurement Act. “The public is constantly suspicious of the healthcare system at all levels,” Global Metrics Director Radostina Angelova commented. She noted that 16 per cent of those polled say they have witnessed or fallen victim to corruption in the sector, but few of them have alerted the authorities about it. Over 95 per cent of interviewees are inclined to believe that the National Health Insurance Fund is being drained. The majority of the public (61 per cent) blame the fact on all hospitals. Fourteen per cent say the practice involves only state-run hospitals. Over one-third of respondents say that unnecessary medical checkups are assigned and carried out in all hospitals. Ten per cent complain that they have been asked to pay money beyond the established fees in state hospitals, and only 3 per cent say the same about private hospitals. “The topic of corruption is endless,” said Tsvetomir Todorov, a legal expert working with BILI. “It is a sea in which nations often drown.” Todorov noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has made people more sensitive to healthcare issues. The sector is beset by problems which have worsened over the years, such as understaffing, outdated equipment in some medical care establishments, negligence for chronic diseases and a low health culture among the population. The survey was carried out between May 14 and 26, 2021 among 1,048 adult respondents across Bulgaria. RY/VE