Today, how to harness the private sector to improve population health in low-income and middle-income countries is heavily debated. One prominent strategy for this is social franchising. A study which was recently published in The Lancet evaluated whether private organisations can be of any help in improving the healthcare scenario in the country.
The research led to the creation of Matrika, as a social franchising model. This multifaceted intervention established a network of private providers and strengthened the skills of both public and private sector clinicians. It evaluated that it could improve the quality and coverage of health services along the continuum of care for maternal, new-born and reproductive health.
The survey findings suggest that the introduction of Matrika was not significantly associated with the change in facility births. Effect of any other individual outcome was not significant. The Matrika social franchise model was not effective in improving the quality and coverage of maternal health services at the population level.
Dr Abhijeet More, conveyor of Jan Arogya Abhiyan, an NGO working in the field of healthcare in Pune, said, “The motive of any private organisation is profit. Healthcare is the sector, where you cannot have profit motive when you are treating poor patients. When one considers these two factors, it becomes difficult for public sector to work with private sector. PPP cannot be solution to all the things ailing in the health care system. Different surveys have suggested that at different times.”
Vinod Shende, healthcare activist working with an NGO ‘Sathi’ in Pune, said, “Private partnership cannot be a substitute for efficient public sector. The government should increase its funding for health care. Private organisations cannot work only for altruistic motive.”