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.
Rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) for malaria have been shown to be safe and effective at reducing inappropriate treatment for suspected malaria. Researchers from the Private Sector Healthcare Initiative partnered with Population Services International (PSI) in Myanmar to evaluate whether financial incentives, or information, education and communication strategies, increased update of RDTs and quality of services by informal providers in Myanmar. The team found that while information, education and communicate strategies led to the largest increase in RDT use, financial incentives had a nearly equivalent effect on RDT volume and a positive but lower effect on quality. Find out more on the results here.
The Private Sector Healthcare Initiative 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. We described in our qualitative evaluation the program's successes and made recommendations for program improvement and effective expansion. The full report is available here.
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.
In partnership with the University of California, Berkeley and Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), the Private Sector Healthcare Initiative is conducting an evaluation of the African Health Markets for Equity (AHME) program. AHME is a partnership of six global organizations that aims to improve the provision of quality private sector health care services in Kenya, Ghana, and Nigeria through support to social franchising and supply and demand-side financing mechanisms. Read more here.
The Private Sector Healthcare Initiative is collaborating with the Society for Family Health, one of Nigeria's leading health non-governmental organizations well known for their work with private sector providers, on the ACHIEVE project. ACHIEVE provides research and technical support to improve the quality of care at private medicine shops and to inform the development of effective child health programs and policies in the private healthcare sector in Nigeria. Read more here.
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. 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 here.
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.
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 here.
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.