Public and private health partnerships during and beyond COVID-19

Public and private health partnerships during and beyond COVID-19

Learnings from the virtual mutual learning series

Public and private health partnerships during and beyond COVID-19

In June, we wrote about an exciting virtual mutual learning series that the Private Sector in Health TWG is co-convening entitled ‘Unlocking Private Enterprise for Public Good – Redesigning Health Systems for UHC during COVID-19 and beyond’. This mutual learning series aims to identify ways that evidence can jointly help both governments and the private sector respond to the COVID-19 challenge and apply lessons learned to engage beyond this emergency in strengthening future health systems for Universal Health Coverage. Here is what we have learnt so far.

New partnership models

Our series kicked off with a first roundtable discussion on ‘New partnership models for the delivery of health services and health technology and products’ on 24 June. Around 50 policy makers and government implementers, entrepreneurs and innovators, and other speakers from academia, civil society organizations, bi/multilaterals, corporates, health technology, and investment funds from around the world took part in these discussions.

Key takeaways include:

  • The private sector has been especially agile in Covid-19 responses across almost every aspect of country health systems – from supply chains to diagnostic services. The COVID-19 pandemic has provided an opportunity for public and private partnership to come together in an unprecedented way. There is keenness and openness on both the government and private sector to invite evidence in developing interventions that can be scaled to sustain beyond Covid-19 responses and go beyond pilots.
  • While private and public engagement will be deeper in post-Covid health systems, there are specific concerns around integration, scale, ability for shared value creation and operating in silos that the private sector and state both want to address. Research can play an objective role in engaging stakeholders and helping better define how health markets can evolve and the ways in which these sectors could work with one another. Taking joint responsibility for leadership by both private sectors actors and the government is essential for more pointed ways to engage.
  • The private sector needs ‘informed decisions’ as much as concrete evidence, with which this sector can use to look at the future to shape interventions as well as partnerships with each other and the state and benefit from it. There is a lacuna in documenting realistic opportunities and areas of mutual interest that arise around mechanisms of engagement especially around models that can work in the long-term.
  • At very localised levels, there are many examples of innovations being championed, however, wider roll-out requires opportunities for interactions between clinicians, commissioners and other health and care professionals, technology developers and patients or end-users. Addressing these critical barriers will require changes to the regulatory and health information systems, new approaches to the negotiation of partnership contracts and effective measures to monitor performance and curtail profiteering and predatory private sector practices.

Managing new kinds of partnerships

In our second roundtable on ‘Managing new kinds of public and private health partnerships during and beyond COVID-19’ on 29 July, a panel of health systems innovators and senior policymakers shared experiences and discussed the mechanisms for engagement with public-private health partnerships during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.


  • Ms Sujatha Saunik – Additional Chief Secretary, Department of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Government of Maharashtra, India.
  • Dr Caroline Mbindyo – CEO Amref Health Enterprise, Kenya.
  • Ms Claire Morris – International Programmes Director, Babylon Health, UK.
  • Dr Mohamed El Sahili – Chief Vision Officer, Medland Health Services, Zambia.
  • Mr Anirudh Rastogi – Founder and Managing Partner, Ikigai Law, India.

Key takeaways

Building on the key messages from the first round table, discussions in this webinar touched on the role of trust and accountability – with the need for engagement on both sides to negotiate roles and responsibilities. Panellists also touched upon the importance of testing new initiatives in a coherent way and developing evidence about what works well and what can be taken to scale. It was observed that some of the best partnerships are formed in the middle of a crisis and can provide longer-term solutions. Since the beginning of COVID-19, communication between the public and private sectors in certain settings has improved. Change and improvement are now seen as possible.

Our mutual earning series continues with some exciting upcoming events.

Upcoming events

On 14 September, we will hold a ‘Parliamentary dialogue on future health systems – Unlocking private enterprise & shaping new partnerships for public good’. This by-invitation roundtable is co-organised by the European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual and Reproductive Health and the Global Parliamentary Alliance for Health Rights and Development. Parliamentarians will respond to questions and on the role of evidence and research in new partnerships in healthcare and their thoughts on engaging in a platform that helps drive this.

On 23 September, we are also organising a by-invitation ‘Roundtable on the Role of evidence in engaging public and private sector stakeholders to re-design health systems for UHC’. This meeting will bring together institutional funders, bilaterals, multilaterals (WHO) and private sector partners to bring in their perspectives on how best their institutions can support, endorse or commit to this new role of research evidence in better contributing to private and public health partnerships and mechanisms of engagement. Our consultation will result in the creation of a shared engagement plan on how to take forward a collaborative learning agenda to effectively engage the public and private sectors in re-designing and re-building heath systems to achieve Universal Health Coverage.

Finally, please join us on 7 October for our next webinar round table discussion (joining details to follow soon) on ‘New Health Partnerships Models – Redesigning Health systems during COVID 19 and beyond – Primary Health Models’. This webinar is organised in collaboration with the Gates Ventures Exemplars Group on Working Models of Innovative Health Partnerships between the private and public health sectors, with a focus on Primary Healthcare Partnerships during and beyond Covid-19.

We will then continue discussions at HSR2020. To inform the mutual learning series, HSG members and other interested stakeholders are invited to contribute to a short survey. For more information about our mutual learning series please visit the Digital Unconference website or email or

Image credit: ILO Arab States/Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0

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