Improving health and reducing inequities worldwide



The private sector is a significant source of healthcare among all populations in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), but especially for the poor. In developing countries, the private sector—from traditional birth attendants and medicine peddlers to trained pharmacists and doctors—provides over half of all of healthcare. In South and Southeast Asia this number is more than 80%. Until now very little attention by academics or policy makers has focused on this aspect of health systems. The result is that major information gaps exist in nearly all countries, and that policies and regulatory frameworks are ill formed, ineffective, or non-existent in most countries. There is no international institutional leadership addressing this. The Private Sector Healthcare Initiative seeks to fill this gap in country capacity to understand and work with the private sector. One way we do this is through support for Communities of Practice, both program implementers and global networks of academics and researchers working on private sector issues.

Strengthening Implementation

The Private Sector Healthcare Initiative serves as secretariat for SF4Health.org, an online community of practice where social franchising stakeholders from around the world exchange information and innovations.

Improving Research & Measurement

  • Metrics Working Group (MWG) - strives to build better measures of social franchising performance indicators, develop better systems for indicator tracking, and implement these metrics in programs worldwide with implications beyond the field of health. The MWG promotes the exchange of current standards and methods for both monitoring and evaluation (M&E), including Management Information Systems (MIS) data systems, outcome indicator calculators and performance measures for both facilities and programs.
  • At the First Global Conference on Social Franchising held in November 2011 in Mombasa, Kenya, the Global Health Group publicly recognized social franchises that effectively collect and use quality metrics, based on a survey and site visits. The Second Global Conference on Social Franchising will be held in October 2014 in Cebu, Philippines.

Promoting Academic Research

  • On January 23-24, 2014, researchers leading the Where Women Go to Deliver project in the Private Sector Healthcare Initiative and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation convened a multi-disciplinary meeting of international experts in maternal health, economics, epidemiology, and health program implementation. The experts reviewed the latest data on where women give birth and discussed the policy and program implications of recent global changes on maternal and neonatal health outcomes. The meeting built a consensus around the changed practices of deliveries in low income settings, and what steps must be taken for policy makers and donors to adjust to the new challenges. Meeting attendees have summarized the meeting discussions and findings, which will soon be shared in a journal publication.
  • The Private Sector Healthcare Initiative held a partnership role in the Private Sector in Health Symposium 2013, a conversation between researchers, implementers, donors, and policy-makers. The symposium focused on health market performance in low- and middle-income countries and how to improve overall performance.
  • The Private Sector Healthcare Initiative is a founding partner of the Private Sector in Health thematic working group, an advisory committee responsible for guiding the development of the Private Sector in Health Symposium.
  • In July 2011, the Private Sector Healthcare initiative was the lead organizer, on behalf of a multi-institution steering committee, of a one-day research symposium on the role of the private sector in the health systems in low- and middle-income countries, prior to the International Health Economics Association (iHEA) 8th World Congress in Toronto. This one-day symposium served as a dialogue between researchers, international organizations, and policy makers to move forward discussion on the role of the private sector in health systems in low- and middle-income countries.