Sound political stewardship leads to the efficient use of resources, improved quality of services, and the effective engagement of all actors in the health system. In developing countries, the private health sector is large and fragmented, and the public sector is poorly equipped to steward the private sector. The policy environment can also create barriers, often preventing the private sector from providing quality health services, products, and information. In many cases, the private sector is excluded from government strategies and policies, and the absence of the clear articulation of its role makes public-private engagement challenging. Stewardship requires government staff with new skills who can make the necessary policy changes, establish fair legal and regulatory frameworks, actively engage the private sector, and create effective partnerships to complement government strategies to improve health.
To strengthen governments’ ability to steward the private sector, SHOPS Plus uses a multipronged approach:
- Conducting assessments to establish a solid base of knowledge and understanding and identify policy barriers and needed incentives to create a market for private providers
- Facilitating a dialogue process that brings all stakeholders together to overcome mistrust, agree on policy agendas, and identify specific partnership opportunities
- Building the capacity of ministries of health in public-private partnership frameworks and mechanisms such as contracting
- Advocating for policy reforms to increase the active participation of the private health sector
- Strengthening the capacity of regulatory boards to promote and enforce licensing and accreditation of quality standards in service delivery
- Sharing research findings and insights on public sector policies and stewardship of the private sector
Examples of our work
SHOPS Plus conducted a 32-country scan to document the legislation, policies, and regulations that currently affect the types of family planning methods pharmacies and drug shops can provide and how they provide them. Family planning stakeholders—including donors, governments and implementing partners—can use this information to contextualize barriers and enablers for policy reforms.
SHOPS Plus is drawing upon the experiences of non-health public-private partnerships and applying it to family planning. The resulting publication will document challenges, successes, and learnings to guide ministries of health, government counterparts, and private sector champions at the country level to develop and implement public-private partnership policies, regulations, and programs.