Private sector has played an important role in providing access to family planning, maternal and child health, and other primary health care services in many low- and middle-income countries. Increasingly, governments are recognizing the importance of working better with and leveraging the private sector to achieve its universal health coverage (UHC) goals. This initiative provides an opportunity to align public and private sector interests to improve quality and reach of health services and products, addressing sustainability and equity concerns. Such constructive partnership requires enabling environment with more supportive policy and regulations for broader private sector participation in the health system. Good policies must recognize and take into account the diversity of private sector including the type of services and products they offer, the type of business entity they operate as, as well as their comparative strengths that strategically contribute to the UHC goal.
Creating supportive policy environments for the private sector can be challenging due to a number of factors including lack of information on size, scope, scale, and type of private sector in a given country, fragmentation in the private health sector that makes it hard to engage in policy dialogue, and need to strengthen government understanding and systems for engaging and integrating private sector into the overall health system. Often, one size does not fit all, and in their paths towards UHC, countries must continually assess and evolve its private sector engagement to refine its policies to better steward the health sector.