Strengthening Private Sector Governance in Mixed Health Systems

By Hilary Kinka, Technical Advisor II, Private Sector Engagement, PSI

The private sector plays a significant role in the delivery of essential health services and products to the consumer. But fragmentation and insufficient government oversight often results in poor integration of the private sector into health systems across low- and middle-income countries.  

In the end, it’s the consumer who pays the price of poor integration, which creates financial barriers, and hampers both quality and continuity of care.  

If we want to accelerate progress toward universal health coverage (UHC), we must shape stronger and more resilient mixed health systems that respond to consumers’ needs and preferences. We should make it easier for consumers to navigate the health system, and access affordable quality services and products, whether through the public sector or in the private sector, where and when they need them.  

To achieve this, PSI is committed to working closely with governments and other key stakeholders at the country level to improve coordination between the public and private sectors, to better connect the different layers of the health system, to expand service offerings and to integrate non-public service delivery into national health financing arrangements—all while leveraging digital health solutions to ‘wire’ together the health system. 

Ultimately, we aim to bring quality care closer to consumers. And the evidence shows: the private sector can help us get there. 

But how? 

The Private Sector’s Potential  

Where the private sector is largely unregulated, it is critical for the government to strengthen its stewardship role to ensure that private health sector activities are aligned with national policies and priorities. The WHO Strategy Report on “Engaging the private health service delivery sector through governance in mixed health systems,” released in 2020. As a member of the Advisory Group convened by WHO to develop the report, we worked in tandem with global partners in identifying the need for, and the solutions to align global, regional, and local partners working in this area to ensure consistent messaging and coordinated technical support to countries.  

The WHO’s Country Connector for the Private Sector in Health does just that. 

What’s Included in the WHO Country Connector?  

The Country Connector aims to address the need to align global, regional, and local partners working in this area to ensure consistent messaging and coordinated technical support to countries. The platform contains six core modules:  

  • Working Groups: The Working Groups convene diverse country actors, technical experts and development partners to diagnose challenges in the COVID-19 response and co-design solutions.  The first three Working Groups have already launched and are around the topics of: COVID-19, Data, and Maternal, Child, and Newborn Health (MNCH). 
  • Clearing House: Published articles and media on how countries engage the private sector for the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostics, therapeutics, PPE and oxygen.  Follow the ‘top 5 reads of the month’, which includes timely and relevant articles around important topics, such as “Positioning Private Health Facilities to Contribute to the COVID-19 Response” or on how “The Private Sector can Accelerate an Equitable COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout.” 
  • Tool Repository: Selected tools and practical guidance that support action-oriented interventions to engage with the private sector.  Browse through the repository to find well-researched tools and frameworks, such as the “Action Plan to Engage the Private Health Service Delivery Sector in the Response to COVID-19” 
  • Research: Ongoing research channel that curates evidence and captures learning from regional and country experience. 
  • Training: Access to training resources to build skills and knowledge to effectively engage the private sector in health. 
  • Support Desk: Answers on how to engage the private sector in your country.  The Support Desk has already aggregated resources to important questions, such as “How do I begin working with the private sector?” and “Where can I find resources on the private sector during COVID-19?”.  You may submit your own technical question here as well! 

We encourage our partners to spend time familiarizing themselves with and contributing to the platform, so that this excellent resource can be utilized to its fullest! 

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