The private sector can play the ultimate role in achieving global health.
In fact, companies can complement what governments and civil society are doing for the health of women, children, and adolescents around the world, according to Sneha Kanneganti, private sector specialist at the Global Financing Facility (GFF).
The private sector's strength lies in that they often have a larger capacity for providing special resources — especially within health systems.
Let’s say a country is lacking in lab diagnostic and imaging capacity. Instead of governments having to build new infrastructure from scratch, the GFF can help governments be more efficient by contracting a network of private labs, which could deliver the same results for a given rate.
The private sector is also very good at coming up with innovative solutions, Kanneganti told Global Citizen.
"Governments can really benefit from taking advantage of that. If you, as a government, are able to present your problems to private sector actors, and have them then design a solution for you, that’s an excellent way of using private sector thinking and expertise," she said.
The new @theGFF partnership w/ @UPS_Foundation, @MerckforMothers & @gatesfoundation will improve supply chains – scaling best practice & leveraging private sector expertise in critical areas such as transport & warehousing. #accesstomedicine. Read more https://t.co/NanSCTnYiB— The GFF (@theGFF) July 18, 2018
Across many GFF-supported countries, production and distribution of medical commodities and pharmaceuticals is a recurring issue.
In July, the GFF partnered with logistics companies that are good at getting product to where it needs to be, including in some of the most challenging and fragile situations.
"They clearly have some supply chain expertise our countries could benefit from," Kanneganti said. "They actually assessed the supply chain and helped design specific solutions that fit the context of that country."
Regulation and oversight will always belong to the public though.
"It’s really the government’s role to be the steward of the whole system. The government sets rule of engagement and decides where the private sector can play a role and contribute," she explained.
After all, governments are in the best position to ensure that their citizens, especially the lowest-income populations, are being taken care of.
The potential for private sector goes far beyond medical technology or pharmaceuticals.
Kanneganti sees future potential in expert-driven partnerships for data systems, nutrition, and many other areas in the coming years.
And if we’re going to close the multi-billion health funding gap that currently exists, we’re going to need all the help we can get.