The private sector plays a critical role in achieving universal health coverage in low- and middle-income countries – global challenges

  • Opinion by Massimiliano Colella (Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  • Inter Press Service

Even before the pandemic, health care financing was under pressure, especially in low- and middle-income countries. As of 2020, African countries were estimated to spend between US$8 and US$129 per capita on health, compared to high-income countries where average spending was around $4,000.

The situation is similar in low-income countries in South Asia, where the average per capita health expenditure is $247. Achieving better health is a costly endeavor and many low- and middle-income countries have limited budgetary resources to achieve this successfully.

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed many gaps in healthcare systems and government funding around the world. But now the focus is shifting to recovery, both in the health sector and in the economic sector. Making this a reality requires greater collaboration between the public and private sectors, including institutions such as the Evercare Group, to help deliver resilient and equitable healthcare systems in the developing world.

The pandemic has shown how the private sector can effectively partner with governments to meet increasing healthcare needs. As the threat of the coronavirus begins to recede, it is important to maintain this public-private partnership to address longer-term challenges and identify key opportunities.

Partnerships are crucial to achieve health-related goals and Universal Health Coverage (UHC), as envisioned in the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The private sector can play a critical role in achieving UHC in emerging markets, working hand in hand with the public sector to complement government health services.

This can be done through specific conscious efforts. One of these is reconfiguring purchase agreements. In recent years, there has been a growing debate about the importance of investment for sustainable development and the ability to meet current needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

This is where the private sector can play an important role – it means that all investments made by private sector players are made sustainably to avoid building up more public debt while responding to new and increasing patient needs.

The private sector can also help provide parallel financing so that public funds can meet the needs of the wider population. For example, personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical personnel was extremely scarce during the pandemic.

We saw private sector players address this shortfall by importing and distributing PPE kits to healthcare facilities. This was possible because private operators were able to leverage their corporate networks and also saw more flexibility in their processes.

During the pandemic, we have seen the critical role the private sector plays in addressing resource shortages across the supply chain – as private sector services span the entire healthcare value chain, from financing and manufacturing (diagnostic equipment, hospital beds , scanners, personnel kits, etc.) to distribution and retail.

The role of the private sector is to take an integrated approach to the organization and delivery of care, meeting the highest standards of quality and efficiency for patients.

In terms of innovation, the private sector is once again at the forefront, conducting research and development and improving access by scaling up innovations. The sector can also help advise on public policy and guide investment where research and innovation gaps exist. On the personnel side, there is constant scope and opportunities for further training of personnel in the sector.

All of these actions help make progress toward achieving universal health coverage, which is challenged by high levels of health inequality, lack of synchronized data from rural to urban areas, and limited financial protection for communities against rising debt burdens in the United States. emerging markets.

Private health care exists in all countries and is the dominant source of care for the world’s poor, accounting for 40% of total health expenditure worldwide and about 60% in low-income countries. While World Health Organization (WHO) member states have adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda, they will not be able to achieve these goals through public sector services alone.

It is therefore imperative that both the public sector and private healthcare stakeholders work together, in synergistic efforts to realize the vision of healthy living and wellbeing for everyone of all ages.

Massimiliano Colella is chief executive officer of Evercare

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© Inter Press Service (2022) — All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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