According to market experts, Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) are an effective approach that could facilitate opportunities to increase access to quality services, improve efficiency and help to ensure public satisfaction as well as address institutional and national priorities.
The experiences of many countries indicate that PPPs involve collaboration between a government agency and private-sector companies that can be used to finance, build, and operate projects such as roads, public transportation networks, health and education sectors as well as in a number of wide ranging areas.
Since the last few years, the private health sector has been burgeoning and becoming operational in Ethiopia in a number of areas. Ranging from primary level facilities such as private pharmacies and drug stores to non-government health facilities and civil society organizations, and primary clinics or medium clinics; to secondary level facilities including private for profit, the private health sector is operating immensely.
In an exclusive interview with The Ethiopian Herald, Addis Ababa City Administration Health Bureau (AACHB) Head Yohannes Chala (MD) said that the role PPPs could play in bringing quality and efficiency in the health care services is tremendous.
In view of this, The Bureau is keen in strengthening and enhancing the presence of the PPPs in the health sector; and it is ready to work with the private sector. Its door is open, he said.
As to him, various concerted efforts are underway to expedite the involvement of PPPs in the health sector and to identify service sectors that should fit the requirement to be practiced through PPPs. The Bureau also engaged in tracking the performances of PPPs on other African cities in the health sector.
According to him, Addis Ababa Health Bureau has applied PPPs in full swing at the dialysis center built at Menelik II Referral Hospital. “We are looking to further enhance the engagement of PPPs in the health care services and make the city one of the destinations for advanced medical care.”
He further noted that the City Administration will keep on working along with stakeholders to make Addis Ababa a medical tourism destination.
The Bureau oversees the establishment of partnership in the health sector to be in line with the set standards and ensures their implementation in accordance with the National Health Policy and standards.
The Bureau encourages private firms in the health sector to establish facilities in underserved areas, transfer knowledge, skills and experience through offering incentives such as tax benefits and other packages to make sure the partnership grows to the level of achieving the desired results.
“The Bureau fosters PPPs approach with the conviction to bridge the gap in healthcare provision and improve the distribution of health facilities in the city and by doing so to ease the health burden of the public,” he added.
Addressing the challenges witnessed in the health sector requires a multifaceted approach. To this effect, involving increased investment in quality health care infrastructure, enhancing public-private partnership, and ensuring equitable access to quality healthcare services for all residents of Addis Ababa is essential. Equally important, working more on prevention strategy is pivotal, he finally underlined.
Partnership and Cooperation Directorate Director with the Bureau, Beshir Mohammed for his part said that private health care facilities working in partnership with the public health sector is one option to create sustainable health systems and to ensure the health and well-being of all the residents.
As the second-most populous country in Africa with a rapidly growing economy and increasing demand for quality health services in the capital, putting in place public-private partnership is influential and timely.
To meet the ever growing necessities of the people, to access the provision of efficient, quality health care services thereby easing the burden of public health facilities, applying PPPs approach is the best possible solution.
He further said that the health sector service is demanding; owing to this, it has the potential to create opportunities for health professionals and investors as well as the diaspora communities to have a hand in.
“I want to urge fellow citizens, investors and the Diaspora community to enhance efforts and invest in the health sector including in the areas of pharmaceutical industry and human development as well as in the provision of high quality laboratory services.”
He underlined that directives and other supporting documents are prepared and there is a green light to put in place the PPPs in each health sector services through well-established fashion.
The Bureau hopes that the effectuation of PPP in the health care service will address the primary challenges of the health sector where there is limited healthcare infrastructure and unequal distribution of healthcare facilities as well as shortage of skilled human power and limited resources among others.
Despite the challenges, the Bureau has recorded a number of successful achievements, to mention but a few, private health care providers in the city are creating possibilities in the business climate, improving competitiveness and further strengthening the quality of the services.
As the nation is striving to reach middle income status in 2025, fostering a more dynamic public-private partnership is instrumental to meet the set goals and let the community be healthy and productive.
“As various reports indicate, we should work hard to address the pressing health care gaps through further fostering public-private partnership in the health system of the nation.”
In recent times, we are witnessing that Ethiopia’s health sector service is expanding from primary to tertiary level facilities. However, a lot remains to be done in terms of accessing high-quality and equitable healthcare services, creating sustainable health systems and to ensure health and well-being of all citizens. In this regard, the engagement of private and public partnership in the health sector should be strengthened.
According to reports, Ethiopia has made significant investments in the public health sector which have led to improvements in the health outcomes. Over the past two plus decades, it was enabled to expand health posts across the country, increase the number of health extension workers and address many health challenges and meet many key health targets including reducing child maternal mortality.
Currently, the government is working with the private sector to build advanced tertiary care hospitals thereby alleviating the health burden of local people that would otherwise be met through travelling abroad and at the end of the day to promote medical tourism in Ethiopia.
BY MENGISTEAB TESHOME
THE ETHIOPIAN HERALD SUNDAY EDITION 17 SEPTEMBER 2023