Since my last post on TI India’s poverty and corruption event , I’ve had the chance to sit down with Iftekhar Zaman, TI Bangladesh’s Executive Director, to hear about how corruption in his country can put such basic public services, as education and health, out of reach for many people.
After doing a survey on people’s experiences with these services, the TI chapter discovered that the majority of them had been victims of corruption. Iftekhar told me about how in response they set up around 130 information desks at the hospitals to advise people of their rights and basic entitlements. All these desks are run by young volunteers and they have managed to reach a staggering 30,000 people, resulting in significant improvements. Unauthorised payments appear to be drying up, complaint boxes have been installed in hospitals and fewer people are now going to private clinics when services are publicly available.
While telling me about these successes, Iftekhar recounted one story (Listen here) of how the volunteers spotted that small amounts of money at one hospital were not being accounted for. While small, these amounts quickly added up over the months and the volunteers successfully persuaded patients and the hospital management of the need to act. It was agreed that this money would go into a fund to be used for people who cannot afford to receive medical attention. The last Iftekhar heard the fund has benefitted more than 1,000 people.