Each year $260bn is lost globally to fraud and errors in healthcare, equal to more than 5% of annual global health spending, a new report has found.

The study by the European Healthcare Fraud and Corruption Network and the Centre for Counter Fraud Studies in the UK found that the money lost to mistakes or corruption is enough to bring malaria under control in Africa and provide clean water around the globe.

The study reviewed 69 exercises to accurately measure healthcare fraud and error losses, undertaken in 33 organisations from six countries.

Centre for Counter Fraud Studies chair Jim Gee said the extra money could be spent on better patient care and the potential benefits to the quality of human life are enormous.

“Because of the direct, negative impact on human life of losses due to fraud, it is never easy to admit they take place. However, the first step to reducing losses is to stop being in denial about them,” Gee said.