By Charles Dalton, Subir Basak, and Zhendong Song, IFC Industry...
Many stakeholders are involved in making universal health coverage a reality and the private sector is a key player in all countries. The private sector innovates and produces most of the inputs for health service delivery, including medicines, commodities, and medical equipment. Most countries have mixed (public and private) health systems, and in many developing countries more than half of first encounters with the health system by people with a new ailment are through the private sector.
Engaging the private sector should be a part of efforts to achieve UHC. Governments and other stakeholders therefore need to engage with the private sector, develop mutual understanding, build trust, and identify common interests.
UHC2030 provides a platform where private sector entities can connect with other key stakeholder groups and can contribute to set the health systems strengthening global agenda.
How the private sector contributes to UHC
UHC2030 Private Sector Constituency’s statement on UHC at the time of the UN High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage in September 2019 highlights how the private sector can work together with other stakeholders to achieve better health and well-being for all people at all ages.
To build on and maximize the private sector’s existing contributions to UHC, the UHC2030 Private Sector Constituency promotes both the principles in this statement and enhanced action across the private sector:
Offer quality products and services that consider the needs of all people including poor and marginalised populations, and make these affordable, accessible and sustainable. The private sector is a significant provider of products and services in most countries. This core offering of demand-driven products and services is its greatest contribution to UHC.
Incorporate UHC principles, including to leave no one behind, in core business models and objectives. This may include, for example, looking beyond immediate results and taking a long-term approach to business goals and impact, consistent with supporting development of resilient and sustainable health systems. The same principles also apply to any philanthropic or charitable activities.
Develop, test and scale up innovative business models that align with UHC goals. Innovation can happen on many levels, especially in approaches that help to drive greater and more equitable access, quality and sustainability of health product and service offerings.
Create, adapt, apply and scale up innovations. Private sector innovation is an engine for new products, techniques, and insights that can improve health care, strengthen health systems, and increase efficiencies. Digital health can be game-changing for health system transformation. New technologies and approaches can help countries to "leapfrog" along health and development pathways and rapidly accelerate progress towards UHC.
Help strengthen the health workforce, responding to local context, priorities and needs. The private sector makes important contributions to training health workers (providing and supporting both pre-service training and continuing education), to knowledge transfer that strengthens health workforce capacities, to workforce data and evidence, and as a major employer of health workers.
Contribute to efforts to raise the finance available for UHC. Achieved through, for example: contributing to innovative finance models and tools, engaging constructively in dialogue on corporate taxation, and supporting governments to articulate the business case for investing in health and UHC.
Engage in, champion and build capacities for relevant policy dialogue and partnerships with government and other stakeholders. This is fundamental for identifying shared objectives and developing collaborations for shared outcomes. It is also important for feedback on the effectiveness of existing and proposed policies and regulatory regimes.
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