“I’m here to tell you the good news coming out of Africa,” said Dr. Khama Rogo, Lead Health Sector Specialist with the World Bank and Head of the World Bank Group’s Health in Africa Initiative. “A healthy baby was born in Uganda yesterday.” Rogo was addressing over 300 people at the recent International Finance Corporation (IFC) Global Private Health Conference held in Prague last week in a keynote address about the importance of public-private harmonization.
Rogo, a native of Kenya and medical doctor by training, went on to tell the tale of a woman struggling to have a healthy baby who used a mix of public and private services – from clinics and hospitals to taxi services to pharmacies – throughout her pregnancy. She went into labor early and delivered her baby in a private clinic with a trained nurse midwife who was able to safely deliver the baby despite complications.
Rogo then asked the audience: When researchers ask this woman if she delivered her baby using public or private services, how will she answer? Will she care?
The question of public and private sector harmonization in healthcare is especially pertinent for IPIHD innovators who are working to increase access to quality, affordable healthcare around the world. Three IPIHD innovators were in attendance at this conference, including Medica Santa Carmen and NephroPlus, private kidney treatment and dialysis clinics in Mexico and India respectively; and Forus Health, a company working to prevent blindness in the developing world through affordable screening devices. These innovators and many others are working in the private sector to find ways to complement public health systems and improve, extend and ultimately, save lives.
While many public-private partnerships and efforts don’t work, there are many that do. It behooves anyone in global health to spend time learning and thinking about some of the successes and failures behind public-private harmonization.