Improving health and reducing inequities worldwide


Private Health Sector Markets

In developing countries and areas of limited healthcare access, private providers act on the front line and are often the only form of healthcare available. Although the private sector plays an increasingly important role in healthcare in developing countries, it remains a new area of study and innovation. When governments cannot provide widespread access to care, and traditional charity-focused NGOs can only offer limited or temporary solutions, the private sector presents an opportunity for sustainable scale-up of healthcare services alongside social and economic development..

The Private Sector Healthcare Initiative’s research on private health sector markets has included research on the role of informal providers in mixed health systems and comparative research on health outcomes in public versus private healthcare settings in low- and middle-income countries. For example, we conducted a systematic review for the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) on Private versus public strategies for health service provision for improving health outcomes in resource-limited settings that was published in March 2011.

Private Provision of Treatment for Malaria and Pediatric Illnesses

The Private Sector Healthcare Initiative conducts research on provision of treatment for malaria, and has recently expanded this research to include treatment of pediatric pneumonia and diarrhea. In 2011 and 2012 we conducted qualitative and quantitative research on malaria diagnosis and treatment and the acceptability of rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) for malaria. The links below provide more information about each of these projects.

Advancing Child Health via Essential Medicine Vendors (ACHIEVE)

The Private Sector Healthcare Initiative is collaborating with the Society for Family Health, one of Nigeria’s leading health NGOs, on the ACHIEVE project. ACHIEVE provides research and technical support to improve the quality of care at medicine shops and to inform the development of effective child health programs and policies in the private healthcare sector in Nigeria. Read more

Rapid Examination of Malaria and Evaluation of Diagnostic Information (REMEDI)

With 2012 grant support from ExxonMobil, the Private Sector Healthcare Initiative conducted a pilot study on acceptability and adherence to results of rapid diagnostic tests for malaria (RDTs) in partnership with the Society for Family Health, a Nigerian NGO that is well known for their work with private sector providers. The goal of the study was to understand consumer demand for malaria diagnosis among patrons who purchase malaria treatment at private sector drug shops, and whether this can be influenced to increase demand for diagnosis prior to treatment. The pilot took place in Oyo state, and involved adult patient exit interviews, on-the-spot rapid diagnostic testing and subsequent follow-up of study participants by phone. Read more

Qualitative Research on Malaria Diagnosis and Treatment Practices among Private Providers in Nigeria

In 2011 and 2012, the Private Sector Healthcare Initiative conducted qualitative research to collect information about malaria diagnosis and treatment practices among private providers in Nigeria. We conducted approximately 40 in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with Proprietary and Patent Medicine Vendors (PPMVs), pharmacists, government officials and non-profit leaders in the Federal Capital Territory, Nasarawa and Oyo states. Read more

Past work on the private provision of malaria treatment includes:

  • On December 17–18, 2010, the GHG joined the Roll Back Malaria Partnership (RBM), the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the National Malaria Control Program of Ghana to host an Affordable Medicines Facility - malaria (AMFm) Forum on “Early Lessons Learned from Implementation” in Accra, Ghana.
  • In October 2010, the Global Health Group published Large-Scale Malaria Treatment in the Private Sector: A Case Study of the Cambodian Experience to inform the efforts of countries embarking on private sector malaria treatment initiatives.
  • On March 1–2, 2010, the Global Health Group joined the MIT-Zaragoza International Logistics Program, Zaragoza Logistics Center, the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, and ExxonMobil to host “Covering the Last Mile for Malaria Treatment: The Private Sector and AMFm” in Zaragoza, Spain, to build a shared understanding of what constitutes an appropriate and effective country-level response to enable uptake of subsidized ACTs within the private sector in the context of AMFm.

Qualitative Research on Guatemalan Micro-Pharmacy Franchise

The Private Sector Healthcare Initiative recently completed a qualitative evaluation of the Tiendas de Salud micro-pharmacy franchise in Guatemala. Tiendas de Salud (TISA) seeks to expand access to essential medicines in rural Guatemalan communities. The program began in 2009, through the work of Mercy Corps and the Linked Foundation. Following TISA’s early success, Mercy Corps partnered with the Guatemalan pharmaceutical company Farmacias de la Comunidad, and they plan to open TISA stores in hundreds of new communities. Our qualitative evaluation describes the program’s successes and makes recommendations for program improvement and effective expansion. The full report is available here.

Where Women Go To Deliver (WWGD)

The Where Women Go to Deliver project seeks to understand global trends and drivers of facility-based delivery, with the goal of informing effective maternal health programs and policies. The research focuses on maternal health in urban areas. The 18-month project, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is conducted in collaboration with partner research institutions in the U.S. and India. Read more here.

Qualitative Evaluation of the African Health Markets for Equity (AHME) Program

In partnership with the University of California Berkeley and Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), the Private Sector Healthcare Initiative is conducting an impact evaluation of the African Health Markets for Equity (AHME) program. AHME is a partnership of six global organizations that aims to improve provision of quality private sector health care in Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria. The program applies an integrated approach that includes expanding the scale and scope of social franchise networks, and supporting both supply and demand-side financing mechanisms. Read more here.