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Abt Assessment Highlights Opportunities to Engage Private Sector to Improve Health Outcomes in Guinea

Fewer than 20 percent of private healthcare providers in Guinea have registered with the government, leaving the vast majority operating outside government oversight. Strengthening private sector engagement in health thus must start with more information about the sector. The Abt-led Sustaining Health Outcomes through the Private Sector (SHOPS) Plus project, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), recently published the results of an assessment of the private health sector in Guinea that provides just that. 

The assessment examined private sector opportunities to increase access to priority health products in family planning, malaria, and maternal and child health. Recommendations highlight steps that the Guinean government, USAID, and other donor partners can take to capitalize on the full range of private sector resources. Conducted entirely during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Abt team used a combination of virtual and in-person interviews with 56 stakeholders in government, private health care organizations, supply chain firms, and the mining industry. The team focused on key challenges and opportunities related to the enabling environment, health financing, and service delivery. 

These interviews and secondary analysis of existing data helped shed light on the relatively untapped – and largely unknown – resources in the private sector. It demonstrated the current role that the private sector plays in key health areas. For example, the private sector provides 44 percent of pediatric diarrhea care and a quarter of family planning methods. An active pharmaceutical sector–including manufacturers, importers, and wholesalers–distributes a wide range of products through over 500 pharmacies and drug shops.

While the the private sector primarily is limited to Conakry, the capital city, and a few other urban areas, the government has many opportunities to partner with it. They include strengthening and streamlining mechanisms that help formalize the private sector and increase market opportunities across the country: registration, public-private engagement, purchasing mechanisms, and more.

This assessment is one of over 30 private sector assessments Abt conducted under SHOPS Plus and predecessor projects. By providing key data on the size, scope, and activities of the private sector, these assessments help local stakeholders and development partners devise strategies, make decisions, and design programs that will maximize private sector contributions to health.

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