4th August 2017. The Ukrainian MoD’s Medical Department invited NGOs and volunteer organizations to help develop new technical requirements for individual first-aid kits used at the frontline of military operations. Experts from the Independent Anti-Corruption Committee on Defense (NAKO), a joint initiative of TI Ukraine and TI Defence & Security, took part in their development, providing input on how to reduce corruption risk. The MOD granted final approval for the technical requirements last week, and Ukrainian servicemen should receive their new first-aid kits this autumn.
The need to develop new technical requirements arose as military and volunteers repeatedly complained about the poor quality of individual first-aid kits (IFAKs) used at the front. Previous IFAK components had been approved in February 2015. However, the list of components for the first-aid kit was less comprehensive, and the standards lower, than those used in NATO countries. In addition, the IFAK technical requirements were often developed by the IFAK manufacturers themselves, meaning that they could shape the MOD’s procurement requirements to suit what they could provide. The new specifications allow the MoD to require manufacturers to ensure each component of the kit is of the highest standard of quality.
The MoD began work on creating new technical requirements for IFAKs in September 2016. Initially, the key stakeholders in the process were representatives of the Ministry of Defense and Ukrainian manufacturing companies, but this approach created significant corruption risks.
But in April 2017, the MOD changed its approach, creating a separate working group in order to minimise the influence of pharmaceutical companies and to avoid corruption risks. This new working group created by the Ministry of Defence included leading medical experts, NGO representatives and volunteer organisations, as well as NAKO experts. This group of experts have worked together alongside the MOD to improve the technical requirements of the first-aid kits to match the NATO standards.
“We insisted on minimising corruption risks. Previously, there was a risk that the specifications would match the preferences of a particular manufacturer, rather than respond to real frontline needs,” said Taras Yemchura, a NAKO researcher. “This could also lead to discrimination against particular participants in the procurement process. For example, we pushed for the abolition of unlawful requirements for special markings on the product packaging, which does not actually affect the quality of the goods, but significantly reduces the range of potential suppliers.”
In the future, NAKO intends to continue monitoring the process of IFAK purchasing, scrutinising the formation of lots, bidding, contracting, and quality control.
The committee is convinced that the active participation of independent experts and high-quality public monitoring of each procurement stage will help counteract corruption risks in the procurement of first-aid kits, decrease the risk of poor-quality goods being supplied, and will help save the lives of soldiers who fight in the Donbass.
The Independent Defense Anti–Corruption Committee (NAKO) is a joint initiative established by Ukrainian public activists, journalists and international experts to fight corruption in Ukraine’s security and defense sector. NAKO is a joint international project of Transparency International Defense & Security and Transparency International Ukraine, supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.