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Facility Censuses: Revealing the Potential of the Private Health Sector

Johnson, Douglas, Kylie Graff, and Soonie Choi


June 16, 2015
The Abt-led, USAID-funded Strengthening Health Outcomes through the Private Sector (SHOPS) project focuses on increasing availability, improving quality, and expanding coverage of essential health services in family planning and reproductive healthmaternal and child health, and HIV and AIDS, through the private sector.These studies allow for the identification of differentials between countries and exploration of trends over time. 

This primer sets forth the rationale for conducting a census and key steps in the implementation process. It builds on SHOPS’s experience conducting private health sector censuses in eight countries in Africa and the Caribbean, and provides practical advice to potential donors on the methodology, potential benefits, and cost implications of carrying out a private facility census. Results contribute to the global knowledge base on private sector health programs.A private facility census provides a complete picture of the number and types of health facilities, as well as information on the private health sector’s overall composition, distribution, strengths, and most pressing gaps and needs. The primer includes case studies from the Caribbean, Malawi, and Nigeria as examples of how census data can be used to inform and strengthen family planning and reproductive health, HIV and AIDS, and maternal and child health programming.