There seems to be growing interest amongst international agencies and donors in the for-profit private sector as a mechanism for improving African health systems, including for poor communities. Already some donors, and even some governments, are subsidising some health care enterprises.
I feel concerned about this trend, given my experience of the South African for-profit private health sector which primarily targets high-income earners, provides expensive services and attracts skilled human resources away from the public sector. Government finds it difficult to regulate the for-profit private sector, especially private providers.
I’d like to start a discussion about the role of the for-profit private sector in African health systems and whether it is appropriate for donors and governments to subsidise such enterprises.
As I’m a researcher, I think the most appropriate point to start would be to examine the evidence from real-life cases where for-profit enterprises have attempted to improve access to health care for disadvantaged communities. Does anyone have some examples to contribute to this conversation? Remember, we’re talking about FOR-PROFIT cases studies (so, for the moment, we’re not looking at services provided by non-profit organisations ).