May 2014 DailyNews; The Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Dr Seif Rashidi, officially launched the Public Private Health Forum (PPHF) on April 24, this year, at New Africa Hotel in Dar es Salaam.
The event symbolised the public sector’s determination and commitment to public-private cooperation towards the goal of providing accessible and affordable quality health care for all Tanzanians.
Representatives of the public and private sector health service providers as well as health professionals and academic associations came together to jointly acknowledge the importance of the launched PPHF.
The forum shall be in line with national policy priorities, make existing partnerships stronger, more strategic and goal-oriented as well as facilitate the development of new alliances. A joint communique was signed by the founding members to formalise the stated commitment.
The Tanzanian German Programme to Support Health (GIZ TGPSH) supported the formation of the forum and will continue to support the roll out efforts of the national achievements to the regional level. Mbeya is the first region planning to adopt the concept of a regional Public Private Health Forum.
Public Private Partnership (PPP) has a long history in Tanzania, dating back to colonial times. However, a formalisation of the process is rather recent. In 1993 a sectoral analysis identified the collaboration between the sectors as weak.
This kick-started the promotion of PPP in health, its integration in national policies and the formation of coordination bodies such as the PPP steering group under the stewardship of the MoHSW. The PPP concept informed and fed into the Health Strategic Plan 2009-2015 and an intersectoral Technical Working Group on PPP was founded.
It comprises of public, private, self-financing and non-for profit health care providers, professional associations as well as development partners. Not least through this working group numerous policy level bench marks in PPP have been reached including: The Health Sector PPP Strategy, the training manual for PPP in health as well as guidelines for PPP in health.
This makes Tanzania one of the first countries in the East African region to create a comprehensive policy framework for public-private cooperation in health.
The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, in line with national policy priorities is committed to assume the lead in the discussions with the private sector in a sector-wide public private dialogue on health systems issues to ensure improved access to and quality of health services.
The newly created Public Private Health Forum (PPHF) provides a platform and a footing for this dialogue. It presents a new window of opportunity to strengthen existing efforts. The PPHF embodies a systemic approach to make partnerships more strategic, effective and goal oriented.
It will facilitate exchange of knowledge, improvement of existing partnerships as well as the development of new alliances in order to leverage the potential of both – the private and the public sectors – in providing adequate health care for all Tanzanians and in particular for the poor and the most vulnerable groups. The PPHF shall not remain limited to the national level.
Its structures are to be rolled out to the regional and council levels to facilitate interaction and exchange between policy and implementation. The private sector is an important health service provider in Tanzania. About 27 per cent of the country’s health care is delivered by private providers, mostly faith-based organisations.
It is pertinent to understand that the private sector is comprised of numerous actors and is not a homogenous body. Private actors in Tanzania include faith-based organisations, non-for-profit organisations and NGOs. Additionally, there are self-sustaining private health care providers involved in clinical and non-clinical support.
Potential stakeholders for PPP are not only private health service providers but also private companies and professional associations.
An example is the Association of Tanzanian Employers (ATE), which is a member of the PPHF and represents the private sector in matters on HIV/ Aids and health. Private companies can have a vested interest in investing in health care, motivated by corporate social responsibility and productivity losses from a sick labour force.
PPP with private companies are an issue to be explored within the PPHF in order to leverage the private sector contribution and to close financing gaps.