Health Reform and Drug Financing. Selected Topics - Health Economics and Drugs Series, No. 006
(1998; 49 pages) [French] [Spanish]
Table of Contents
View the documentAcknowledgements
View the documentExecutive summary
Open this folder and view contents1. Introduction
Open this folder and view contents2. Financing reforms
Open this folder and view contents3. Affordability and efficiency
Close this folder4. Organizational reforms
View the document4.1 Competitive mechanisms in public drug supply
View the document4.2 Decentralization in drug supply systems
View the document4.3 Role of the “third sector”
View the documentConclusions
View the documentReferences
View the documentBack Cover

4.3 Role of the “third sector”

NGOs play an important role in the financing and provision of health services in many countries. The share of health services and health financing provided through the private not-for-profit health sector varies considerably among countries, but in low-income countries can be up to 50% of curative services [5, 14]. In addition, India (Community Development Medicinal Unit), Kenya (MEDS), Nepal, Nigeria (CHANPHARM) and Uganda (Joint Medical Stores) are among the countries in which NGOs operate essential drugs supply services.

Aside from NGOs which provide health care services and those operating essential drugs supply agencies, there are several other types of non-commercial “third sector” organizations which play an important role in many countries. Table 13 lists some of the typical third sector organizations in a country.

Consumer groups act as watchdog organizations and often support national drug policies and campaigns on rational drug use. Where advertising controls are subject to self-regulation by industry, such groups can help to oversee the effectiveness of self regulation.

Some third sector organizations are involved in setting product or professional standards. The United States Pharmacopeia, for example, is a private, not-for-profit organization which publishes the quality standards frequently cited in international trade (“USP”).

The role of the third sector needs to be further explored, since it provides an independent and potentially quite efficient complement to government involvement in specific areas of the pharmaceutical sector.

Table 13. Examples of “third sector” organizations

Service delivery organizations

• health service providers
• essential drugs supply services

Consumer organizations

• consumer organizations (general)
• health-oriented consumer organizations
• disease-specific organizations (persons with AIDS groups (PWAs), epilepsy groups, etc.)

Professional associations (setting and enforcing professional standards)

• medical associations
• pharmacy associations
• insurers associations
• hospital associations

Standard-setting organizations

• health care standards, facility accreditation
• pharmaceutical quality standards


• contract laboratory or research services
• independent drug assessments


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