Introduction: Health care sector corruption diverts resources that could otherwise be used to improve access to health services. Use of private-sector practices such as a public-private partnership (PPP) model for hospital governance and management may reduce corruption. In 2011, a government-run hospital in Lesotho was replaced by a PPP hospital, offering an opportunity to compare hospital systems and practices.
Objective: To assess whether a PPP model in a hospital can help curb corruption.
Methods: We conducted 36 semistructured interviews with key informants between February 2013 and April 2013. We asked about hospital operations and practices at the government-run and PPP hospitals. We performed content analysis of interview data using a priori codes derived from the Corruption in the Health Sector framework and compared themes related with corruption between the hospitals.
Results: Corrupt practices that were described at the government-run hospital (theft, absenteeism, and shirking) were absent in the PPP hospital. In the PPP hospital, anticorruption mechanisms (controls on discretion, transparency, accountability, and detection and enforcement) were described in four management subsystems: human resources, facility and equipment management, drug supply, and security.
Conclusion: The PPP hospital appeared to reduce corruption by controlling discretion and increasing accountability, transparency, and detection and enforcement. Changes imposed new norms that supported personal responsibility and minimized opportunities, incentives, and pressures to engage in corrupt practices. By implementing private-sector management practices, a PPP model for hospital governance and management may curb corruption. To assess the feasibility of a PPP, administrators should account for cost savings resulting from reduced corruption.