Practical Tips

While each of the case studies highlights context-specific approaches to public-private engagement, common themes across countries can help inform successful approaches elsewhere. USAID missions may consider the following guidance in their country strategy and programming.

Support the generation of high-quality reliable data to help the government understand the scope and scale of the private health sector. The information can help public stewards develop more appropriate policies, better plan for and react to health emergencies, and inform universal health coverage initiatives. It can also be used to increase the visibility of the private health sector and encourage future partnerships. As in Senegal, one strategy is to conduct a private sector assessment and a private sector census, especially in contexts where private sector data are absent. Another strategy is to integrate private sector reporting into routine national health information systems. An important step in this integration is reviewing and reducing the reporting burden on private providers that serves as a disincentive to participate.

Facilitate an inclusive and participatory dialogue, especially where collaboration has been absent. The Nigeria TB partnership shows the importance of identifying and supporting champions in both sectors who are willing to reach across the aisle and lead the process. It is important to invest time and resources to support platforms that bring all actors together, and use strong facilitation skills to identify challenges and solutions together. The exact mechanism for how they engage can vary, but it should be mutually beneficial for both parties and be frequent enough to build trusted relationships among actors.

Equip the public sector with the necessary skills and understanding of why and how to engage with the private health sector. In many countries, public stewards and regulators are insufficiently prepared to lead meaningful engagement with the private sector and move beyond past attitudes of mistrust. Targeted trainings, on-the-job coaching, and user-friendly tools, such as the ones used in Senegal to evaluate and compare potential partnership options, can help build and strengthen the public sector’s capacity to work with the private health sector.

Consider phased approaches to achieve quick results and generate momentum. Many examples showcased in this brief started with a short-term or small-scale effort that later developed into more sustained, widespread engagement. By starting small, public-private engagement efforts can achieve results quickly. Successes show the value of public-private engagement to both sides and can galvanize enthusiasm and support for continued, broader engagement and partnerships.

Useful resources
Facility Censuses: Revealing the Potential of the Private Health Sector is a step-by-step primer on how to implement a private sector census.
Assessment to Action is an online guide to conducting private health sector assessments in low- and middle-income countries with suggested steps, activities, and outputs to help guide the process.
Private Sector Counts is an online tool that uses Demographic and Health Survey data to illuminate the important contribution of the public and private sectors to sick child care and family planning service delivery.
The Family Planning Market Analyzer combines data from Demographic and Health Survey and Family Planning 2020 projections of modern contraceptive prevalence to allow users to explore potential scenarios for a total market approach.
The primer Stewarding the Private Sector for Family Planning highlights examples of successful efforts by public stewards to engage the private health sector and recommends approaches for donors, implementing partners, and governments to improve public stewardship of private providers for better family planning outcomes.
The primer Understanding Private Sector Domestic Resource Mobilization for Health examines ways to mobilize local private sector resources for health with a focus on family planning.
Organizing the Private Sector to Support Universal Health Coverage Goals provides extensive guidance on why and how to organize the private health sector.
An e-learning course on organizing private health providers on the Global Health eLearning Center website shares opportunities to join an organizing effort and strategies based on case studies of successful organizing efforts.
Public-Private Dialogue provides resources on public-private dialogue including tools, country cases, and lessons learned.
Public-Private Partnerships for Family Planning: Case Studies on Local Participation has guidance on developing PPPs.




Sustaining Health Outcomes through the Private Sector (SHOPS) Plus is a five-year cooperative agreement (AID-OAA-A-15-00067) funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). This website is made possible by the generous support of the American people through USAID. The information provided on this website is not official U.S. government information and does not represent the views or positions of USAID or the U.S. government.

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