Healthy Partnerships

How Governments Can Engage the Private Sector to Improve Health in Africa

Published In: The World Bank and the International Finance Corporation, no. 61895, June 2011, 152 p

Posted on on June 01, 2011

by Connor Spreng

Read More

Access further information on this document at

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

Healthy Partnerships: How Governments Can Engage the Private Sector to Improve Health in Africa assesses how governments and the private health sector are working together in forty-five African countries. The Report finds that governments and the private health sector can and should improve the way they work together in order to meet health goals in Africa. It offers specific recommendations for governments, the private sector, and other stakeholders. The results open a window on to the landscape of private health care in Africa. Health systems across Africa are in urgent need of improvement. The public sector should not be expected to shoulder the burden of directly providing the needed services alone, nor can it, given the current realities of African health systems. Therefore to achieve necessary improvements, governments will need to rely more heavily on the private health sector. Indeed, private providers already play a significant role in the health sector in Africa and are expected to continue to play a key role, and private providers serve all income levels across sub- Saharan Africa's health systems. The World Health Organization (WHO) and others have identified improvements in the way governments interact with and make use of their private health sectors as one of the key ingredients to health systems improvements. Across the African region, many ministries of health are actively seeking to increase the contributions of the private health sector. However, relatively little is known about the details of engagement; that is, the roles and responsibilities of the players, and what works and what does not. A better understanding of the ways that governments and the private health sector work together and can work together more effectively is needed. This Report assesses and compares the ways in which African governments are engaging with their private health sectors. Engagement is defined, for the purposes of this report, to mean the deliberate, systematic collaboration of the government and the private health sector according to national health priorities, beyond individual interventions and programs. With effective engagement, one of the main constraints to better private sector contributions can be addressed, which in turn should improve the performance of health systems overall.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.