The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS)

How fighting corruption and strengthening procurement capacities is bringing improved public healthcare for millions of people across Guatemala – and reaching those that need it most.

$270
million of estimated savings
Savings

The government estimated savings of around $270 million – reporting an estimated 57 per cent savings on the purchase of medicines and 34 per cent savings in surgical medical supplies and cochlear implants since they began working with UNOPS.

In Guatemala, the public healthcare system struggles to keep up with the demands of an aging and ever-growing population. Limited resources, high medical costs, poor infrastructure and high levels of perceived corruption in the public sector only serve to further challenge the system.

In 2015, it was discovered that major cases of corruption were affecting medicine procurement in Guatemala’s Social Security Institute (IGSS) – the branch of government that provides, among other services, hospital and clinical services, pensions and income protection benefits. Certain suppliers were found to be unfairly benefiting from government procurement while medicine supplies for millions of Guatemalans were at risk.

Since then, UNOPS has been working with IGSS to improve transparency in its procurement processes, playing a fundamental role in the strengthening of institutional procurement capacities.

Building a system-wide culture that rejected corruption was no easy task, and UNOPS faced significant challenges – including legal disputes, protests and media coverage that attacked the merits of the project.

Over time, changes began to occur, and the benefits of a more transparent and efficient system became widely accepted. More vital medicine reached citizens who needed it. Healthcare facilities improved. And the delivery of services became more patient-friendly.

In this three-part series, we explore how Guatemalans across the country – from children living with disabilities to indigenous families living in rural areas – are benefiting from improved healthcare services, thanks to this groundbreaking project.

Learning to hear: A story from Guatemala City

Learning to hear: A story from Guatemala City

Children born with significant hearing disabilities are now given the opportunity to improve their quality of life through better public healthcare services. Meet Andrea, Fernando and Keily, three of many children who are learning to hear for the very first time.

4 min read

Reliable healthcare in times of emergency

Reliable healthcare in times of emergency

A new hospital – with improved services and medicine availability – has meant a transcendental improvement in patient care for residents living in the Western Highlands region of Guatemala.

4 min read

Better healthcare in action: Luisa's story

Better healthcare in action: Luisa's story

Two-year-old Luisa was diagnosed with pneumonia and would spend the next two months fighting for her life. If it wasn’t for recently improved emergency healthcare services and available medicines, doctors believe she may not be with us today.

4 min read

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