How to Reduce Corruption in the Health Area


George Avelino Filho, Lorena Barberia e Ciro Biderman



Research in focus: How to reduce corruption in the health area.

Local control mechanisms via experienced municipal health councils reduce illegal practices, such as overcharging, illegal public bidding processes and false tax invoicing.

Objective: To explore the relationships between local mechanisms for monitoring health resources and the incidence of corruption in Brazilian Municipalities.


• An analysis of local control mechanisms, particularly of municipal health councils

• A focus on the capacity of municipal health councils to monitor the funds transferred to their respective municipalities

• The use of objective corruption measures, provided by a database containing information about irregularities in implementing the health funds transferred by the federal government between 2004 and 2010

• The random selection of 980 municipalities from the database (by drawing names)


• Municipal health councils are relevant with regard to reducing corruption related to managing health resources in municipalities.

• The main factor for the success of councils is their experience, measured as the number of years since they were founded.

• For each additional year that the council has been in existence, the percentage of funds linked to corruption reduces by 2.1%, which strengthens local control mechanisms.

What's new 

• The study provides the first large-scale empirical evidence that local control mechanisms can be an important influence for reducing corruption.

• Local control mechanisms take time to function fully, which may be related to the accumulating experience of the members of the municipal councils.

• The federal government should allocate resources to speed up the learning process of municipal health councils to reinforce local mechanisms for monitoring and reducing the embezzlement of funds.

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