SEA/RC62/10 - Engagement with the private sector
AbstractEngagement with the private sector was put forward for discussion by Thailand at the Sixtyfirst Regional Committee for South-East Asia in 2008, to be developed as an agenda item for the 124th Executive Board in January 2009. The Executive Board agreed that the topic be further deliberated upon at the Sixty-second World Health Assembly in 2009. In light of the urgent issue of the influenza A (H1N1) outbreak, Member States agreed that the topic of engagement with the private sector be postponed for discussion at the Sixty-third World Health Assembly in 2010. This background paper highlights key technical issues that underline the central importance of governance in effective engagement of the private sector. A large and varied private sector plays a dominant role in health in the South-East Asia Region in terms of both finance and provision of services. Evidence indicates that households in the Region rely on private provision even for essential services like maternal and child health care, and that this is financed through high out-of-pocket payments – more so than anywhere else in the world. However, much of this activity is unregulated and does not contribute effectively to the national health agenda. Where the role of the private sector is already large, the relative costs and benefits of effective engagement for universal coverage compared with scaling-up public provision make it an option for serious policy consideration. Such mixed strategies would need appropriate modalities for partnership and new capacities to be developed on both sides. Furthermore, this approach does not preclude political and social stands on the preferred roles of government and private sector in health based on ideology as well as the strengths and weaknesses of government. Importantly, “more” private sector does not mean “privatization” or “less” government; rather, it implies a strong government presence, only in a different role, one that emphasizes governance and financing rather than direct provision. Based on country experience, this paper underlines the importance of government capacity in strategic engagement of the private sector in health. The High-Level Preparatory (HLP) Meeting considered the working paper SEA/HLPMeet/ 2.2 on the subject. This revised working paper is now being submitted to the Sixtysecond Session of the Regional Committee for its consideration. The HLP meeting also proposed a draft resolution for consideration of the Regional Committee. The paper is now submitted to the Sixty-second Session of the Regional Committee for its consideration, and for its decision regarding the resolution proposed by the HLP meeting.
World Health Organization, Regional Office for South-East Asia. (2009). SEA/RC62/10 - Engagement with the private sector. WHO Regional Office for South-East Asia. http://www.who.int/iris/handle/10665/128468