The nature of healthcare has evolved from being an essential service to one of the most lucrative industries in the world. It is hard to escape its trappings where the smallest of procedures can burn through your pocket. The privileged few that can afford insurance or have some government agency cover their medical expenses; probably breathe a little easier than the millions less fortunate.
In diverse economies and societies, how exactly does one provide essential medical care to everyone equally, with or without insurance? With rising prices, changing disease patterns and increasing use of sophisticated technology for diagnosis and treatment, it is virtually impossible for any single organization to provide for the consumers on their own.1
This is where Public- Private Partnerships (PPPs) come in. A collaborative effort between private and public sectors, it clearly identifies partnership structures, shared objectives, and specified performance indicators for delivery of a set of health services. (MOHFW,GOI)2
Partnerships range from global between multinational companies, to multilateral donors to local ones between private physicians and government clinics. Irrespective of their sharing pattern, this module ensures that both parties gain.. A key reason of why this module is imperative is because it debunks the theory that government care is for the poor who can’t afford to take care of themselves and private treatment is for the economically privileged.
With higher drug costs, perverse incentives for unnecessary testing and weak regulation in the private sector, the other lacks proper standards, efficient delivery of services. Both systems lack accountability and transparency.5 Dynamic shifts in socio-economic conditions of nations have forced the two to seek interdependence to help account for their shortcomings. Together they can aim to improve efficiency, quality of services, accessibility, mobilize additional resources, community ownership of programs and optimal use of infrastructure and investment. 3
Several countries such as Australia, Netherlands, Canada, France, Singapore and Sweden follow the two – tier health-care system, maintaining a balance between the two sectors. President Barack Obama last year announced an alliance of G8 members, African countries and the private sector to fight malnutrition.4 They successfully raised $3.75 billion in public-private investment from more than 70 global and local companies. The HIV/AIDS effort in Africa represents how working together can maximize the delivery of care and distribute work.
A renowned surgeon in India has incorporated a PPP model into his practice and give us a live example of how successful it is in a developing country:
Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty, a cardiac surgeon based in Bangalore runs a hospital ‘Narayana Hrudalaya’ that performs about 35 cardiac surgeries per day. He developed schemes that gave the poor access expensive surgeries at lower costs for a minimal investment by the individual and the government. His concept that allows them to operate for as less as $980 is based on the fact that high number of surgeries reduces their material cost, working on a large scale brings down the expense. A recent television show highlighted and explained his efficient working model and can be seen in the link below:
PPPs can go a long way if spearheaded in the right direction with a systematic and organized structure. The mission at the end, is the quality and affordable health and welfare for all.
1. http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/ihsg/publications/pdf/PPP-final-MDM.pdf ; table of models of PPP
2,3Overview of PPP Models, Nandan
MOHFW GOI – Ministry of Health and Welfare, Government of India