Leveraging the private sector to scale up COVID-19 vaccine roll out

By Gaurav Sharma, Sr. MNCH Technical Advisor, MPHD, Jphiego; Dr. Meru Sheel, Immunizations and Emergencies Advisor, Jhpiego; and Pierre MoonMOMENTUM Private Healthcare Delivery, PSI 

The private sector has long played a role in immunization service delivery in many low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The impetus for rapid roll out of COVID-19 vaccines brings to the forefront the need for innovative approaches and cross-sectoral collaboration.  

This requires Ministries of Health to look beyond traditional public health systems to consider the routine immunization work already helmed by private providers, and how public health systems can leverage the vast footprint of the private sector to achieve speed and scale in COVID-19 vaccine roll-out efforts.   

The roll out is a rapidly evolving landscape – and, when it comes to delivering COVID-19 vaccines with efficiency and at scale – implementation guidance that translates evidence to practice can help streamline countries’ vaccine roll outs and improve access to critical COVID-19 preventive care. 

Through the USAID-funded MOMENTUM Private Healthcare Delivery (MPHD) project, we are identifying best practices in private sector engagement for routine immunizations to support COVID-19 vaccine delivery at the country level. We are working closely with the WHO and other immunization partners in this effortBuilding on the 2017 WHO guidance on Private Sector Engagement for Immunization, MPHD is integrating WHO guidance on COVID-19 Vaccine Readiness and Development Planning to support national-level programming in LMICs. This work expands on the already significant contribution of the private sector to immunization services. For example, in Kenya, 34 percent of independent private facilities and 80 percent of NGO-managed facilities already provide the routine childhood vaccinations.  

But the work doesn’t end there. Under MPHD, we’ll explore promising solutions to long-standing challenges in the private sector, such as less reliable service reporting and lack of awareness and adherence to national vaccination schedules. And we’ll do so with an eye to localization, and with a total market approach that ensures improved consumer access – no matter their entry point to the health system. 

By partnering with the private sector, Ministries of Health can effectively leverage the full breadth and capacity of the health system for rapid COVID-19 vaccine roll out. At the very least, that’s the starting point to think creatively about overcoming bottlenecks in COVID-19 vaccine delivery.  

Watch this space – we’ll be sharing the learnings along the way. Looking for more? Explore what MPHD is up to here. 

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Public trust and confidence in COVID-19 vaccines need our attention. PSI and Facebook are working together to counter the myths and misperceptions that stand between consumers and their access to getting their COVID-19 shot.

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