Strong Public-Private Partnerships in Afghanistan Improve Access to Health Services and Products
In Afghanistan, private health care providers and pharmaceutical suppliers play a large role in providing health services and distributing health products. However, as yet, there is no adequate mechanism for registering private sector providers with the Afghan government nor are there government regulations to govern the private sector. Management Sciences for Health (MSH) is working to improve the policy environment for effective delivery of quality health services through the private sector.
MSH is working closely with the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) and private sector organizations to demonstrate that certified private health providers and local commercial pharmaceutical suppliers can be strong partners with the government in supporting the public health sector goals for improving the health of all Afghans.
MSH organized capacity-building trainings for private hospital and pharmaceutical industry associations to help them participate in the creation of policies and instruments to promote cooperation. Working together they have devised policies and are developing a mechanism for ensuring quality of care in private sector health facilities. A key milestone in this public-private partnership was the production of the National Private Sector Health Policy Strategy. The policy established core principles to guide the development and implementation of a productive relationship between the Ministry and the private sector.
MSH is accomplishing this work through the US Agency for International Development (USAID) – funded Communication for Behavior Change: Expanding Access to Private Sector Health Products and Services in Afghanistan (COMPRI-A) Project. COMPRI-A is a social marketing and behavior change communication program implemented by Futures Group International on behalf of the MoPH. MSH, Deloitte Touche, and the QED Group are all implementing partners. The Project is designed to increase access to and use of quality basic health products and services by women of reproductive age and children under the age of five, especially in rural and underserved areas, through private sector providers.
To achieve a productive collaboration with the private sector and implement the new policy and strategy, COMPRI-A, the MoPH, and senior private sector health leaders also established a directorate for Private Sector Coordination within the Ministry of Public Health – the Office of Private Sector Coordination (OPSC) under the General Directorate of Policy and Planning.
The new OPSC is building trust, coordination, and collaboration between the public and private health sector representatives in order to facilitate the implementation of the national policy and strategy. This Office serves as a mechanism to help improve the quality of health services and products offered by the private sector providers. The OPSC is also fostering Public-Private Partnerships. An example of achievements in this area, are the collaboration of private hospitals in the national immunization and tuberculosis control programs in Kabul.
COMPRI-A is successfully using social marketing strategies combined with education and training within this improved public-private environment to motivate health behavior change.