UN Development Programme’s Anti-Corruption, Transparency, Integrity & Openness (ACTION) project partnered with Afghanistan Public Policy Research Organization (APPRO) to organize the first meeting of the Joint Civil Society and Government Oversight Committee on implementation of Anti-corruption Strategy in the Health Sector with the participation of committee members from different departments of Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), civil society and UNDP.
The aim of establishing this Joint Oversight Committee is to ensure transparency and improving health service delivery to Afghan citizens through monitoring the implementation of the anti-corruption strategy in the health sector.
The establishment of this committee was proposed by the National Advocacy Committee for Public Policy (NAC-PP) members in one of the advocacy meetings facilitated by UNDP’s partner APPRO on August 20, 2020, with MoPH. The committee consist of delegates from different department of MoPH and civil society organizations and was chaired by the General Director of the Policy and Planning Directorate of the MoPH, Dr. Abdul Qadir Qadir.
“Corruption is an issue in the health sector and our goal is to eradicate or at least minimize corruption with support from civil society who are part of this committee”, said Dr. Bashir Noormal, Deputy Minister for Policy and Planning of MoPH. “We are pleased that this joint oversight committee has enabled MoPH to engage civil society in the development of next anti-corruption strategy in the health sector”.
Mr. Ahmad Shaheer Anil, Executive Director of APPRO who spoke on behalf of the civil society organizations stated that “all of us no matter if we work with the government or civil society are part of this society and recipients of the public services”. He added, “we are committed to collaborating with MoPH to strengthen transparency and accountability in the health sector”.
The establishment of the Joint Oversight Committee is a good opportunity for civil society and government to enhance state-civil society relations and partner in developing and implementing policies and measures to counter corruption.
Dr. Abdul Qadir Qadir, Director General of Policy and Planning and chairperson of the Joint Oversight Committee summarized the next steps for future meetings. “First of all, the terms of reference (ToR) will be discussed and inputs from committee members will be incorporated in the ToR,” he said, adding “responsibilities of this Joint Oversight Committee are not easy to work to get it done, we need commitment, dedication and above all mutual cooperation among committee members to reduce corruption in Afghanistan’s Health Sector”.
In addition, Dr. Qadir has directed official in MoPH to start working on an implementation and monitoring plan to ensure synergies in the implementation of multiple strategies and policies developed in MoPH such as the Ministry-wide Anti-corruption Strategy, Anti-corruption Strategy Action Plans developed jointly by MoPH and Special Anti-corruption Secretariat, and Conflict of Interest Policy.
UNDP’s ACTION project supported the monitoring of the COVID-19 budget in Nangarhar, Laghman and Kunar provinces in six monitoring cycle. These monitoring cycles documented the transparency and accountability measures in the government and international community’s COVID-19 response in relation to budget and expenditure in the aforementioned provinces. Findings from the six monitoring cycles also supported in conducting evidence-based advocacy with MoPH which led to the establishment of this Joint Oversight Committee.
The Joint Oversight Committee in Health Sector will strengthen transparency and accountability in public health service delivery by monitoring the budget allocation and execution in health sector. It will also monitor the benchmarks set under National Strategy for Combatting Corruption for the health sector and identify the gaps and shortcomings in current anti-corruption policies.
This initiative is part of UNDP Afghanistan’s Anti-Corruption, Transparency, Integrity and Openness (ACTION) project to increase public trust in, and transparency of, Afghan Security and Justice institutions and is generously funded by Royal Danish Embassy.