A new report launched by SHOPS Plus in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Social Action (MSAS) and USAID details information on private health facilities and is giving policy makers, health professionals, and stakeholders in Senegal a more accurate picture of the country’s private health sector.
The mapping report, which was disseminated at a workshop in Dakar on March 30, identified 2,754 private health facilities nationwide, a number that differed greatly from government estimates. Findings also showed that 87 percent of the facilities are concentrated in urban areas, with 52 percent located in the capital city. Close to half of the facilities are pharmacies and drug shops, almost a third are owned by women, and more than half lack financial resources to further expand their businesses.
Senior official embraces findings
At the dissemination workshop last month, Secretary General of the Ministry Papa Alassane Mbengue spoke about the mapping report and emphasized its as a tool that will allow stakeholders to fully harness the potential of the private sector and stimulate public and private sector engagement to improve health outcomes in the country. The secretary general said that report will enable to access a comprehensive database of private sector health facilities in Senegal, examine its potential contribution to health development goals, and strengthen current interventions, particularly in family planning, HIV/AIDS, and maternal and child health.
Collaborative process from the beginning
The private sector mapping was a collaborative effort grounded in a series of stakeholder workshops where SHOPS Plus, partners, and participants discussed the design and process, developed the data analysis plan, validated the results, and disseminated the final report. The effort was overseen by the Public-Private Partnerships Technical Committee of the Ministry, which included representation from different divisions of the Ministry and private sector actors such as the Alliance of Private Health Providers and professional associations. Data collection and analysis was led by the Agency for the Promotion of Population Activities – Senegal in close collaboration with the SHOPS Plus technical and research team. There was also heavy involvement from the regional and district health authorities in the implementation, validation, and dissemination of the study, which was critical to its success and will encourage the integration of findings into existing local programs and policies.
Facilities indicate biggest challenges
Private sector health facilities continue to be an important source for health services in the country, despite regional disparities. However, the report shows that many facilities are challenged by the lack of financial resources, stockouts, shortage of medical supplies and materials, and slow reimbursement of provider payments. With the majority of owners using their own funds as a primary source of financing for their facilities, addressing the lack of access to credit in the banking sector and the lack of business and management training for staff in private health facilities (55 percent have no trained staff) will be key to promoting their growth.
Using the data to achieve results
The mapping data is already in high demand. SHOPS Plus used the data to plan targeted trainings to private providers on key health topics. The Alliance of Private Health Providers used the findings to set up regional offices to ensure strong engagement between the public and private sectors at the regional level. Moving forward, the Ministry would like to develop a roadmap that outlines ways in which private health sector data can be updated and integrated in existing health information systems. SHOPS Plus will work with the Ministry and the National Agency of Statistics and Demography to help monitor the use of the data.