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October 25, 2021

Esther Blythe: We will carefully monitor how the new Gov’t supports Anticorruption Strategy

Undersecretary of State Raed Arafat admitted yesterday that there is corruption in the health system “but one can’t say it has a greater extent than in other domains.”

Esther Blythe, Great Britain’s Deputy Ambassador to Bucharest, stated yesterday, at the launch of the Med.Alert.ro portal (a free service for reporting abuses within the Romanian health system – editor’s note), that implementing the National Anticorruption Strategy has an important impact on the Mechanism of Cooperation and Verification (MCV) and the British Embassy will monitor with “great care” the way in which the new government and the new parliamentary majority promote its implementation. Esther Blythe also underlined that Great Britain considers that the MCV in the justice system has to remain in place until all targets are attained. On the other hand, she pointed out that Great Britain’s Embassy is impressed with the progress that the Romanian authorities have made in the last two years within the MCV, a fact also noted by the European Commission’s February report. “Progress however has to continue,” the British official added, being quoted by Mediafax. Present at the event, undersecretary of state Raed Arafat (photo) stated that there is corruption within the health system but one cannot state that it has a greater extent than in other domains. “There is a vicious circle in the system. (…) We can’t hide and say there is no corruption in the health system. There is and it has to be known. We have to know the scale of this problem,” Arafat said. However, he pointed out that the portal should not turn into “a witch hunt.” According to Arafat, the Health Ministry supports the launch of the portal and stated that the data that makes its way to the institution’s specialists will be verified. Present at the event, US Ambassador to Bucharest Mark Gitenstein underlined that most Romanians have faced corruption in their daily lives, including in the form of unofficially paying for medical services. “Unofficial payments can significantly disadvantage poor persons and can undermine the official system of health services payments. Most of the sums paid unofficially are not declared and calculating them is difficult. However, some persons have suggested that the sum paid by Romanians stands at EUR 200 for each hospitalization,” Gitenstein added. MedAlert is an online platform that patients and doctors can use to report abuses, corruption and cases of malpractice in the Romanian health system. The MedAlert team that consists of journalists will register the reports and will monitor the authorities’ reactions and efficiency, putting corruption cases under the media’s spotlight. The portal is for Romanian journalists that want to see their articles becoming calls upon authorities. The portal is one of the online projects that won the Restart Romania competition in 2011. The project is backed by the American and British embassies in Bucharest.

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