At a recent convening in Geneva, Global Fund Executive Director Mark Dybul drew attention to opportunities for private sector partners to bring core business expertise to strengthening country health systems. The event, hosted by the PSD on the margins of the 33rd Board meeting in late March, focused on the role that strong health systems play in combatting HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria.
Over 60 representatives from the Global Fund Board, Board constituencies, the PSD, Secretariat staff and technical partners attended the event. Presenters included Patrik Silborn, Head of the Secretariat’s private sector team and PSD members Amy Israel (Eli Lilly), Renuka Gadde (BD) and Brian Brink (Anglo American). Paul Schaper also moderated a panel discussion with members of the Global Fund’s Health Systems Strengthening and Policy Hubs and the Board’s Strategy Committee.
Highlights from the speaker presentations include:
- Mark Dybul emphasized core private sector competencies in areas that are critical for robust health systems, including financial and risk management, procurement and supply chain management, and program quality.
- Patrik Silborn shared examples from the Global Fund’s Innovation Hub, an initiative to leverage private sector expertise to address recurring challenges faced by the Fund. He highlighted key partnerships under the Hub, including an initiative with SAP AG to build a grant management platform for program implementers, and a partnership with PSD Member Ecobank Transnational to improve financial management and reporting skills among program implementers. Renuka Gadde shared BD’s experience working with PEPFAR and US CDC to launch the Labs for Life partnership, a project to improve the quality of lab services in six priority countries across sub-Saharan Africa.
- Speakers emphasized that private sector can capitalize on innovative, new technologies to improve health systems, data collection and quality of care. For example, the Health Pin partnership with Vodafone and PharmAccess Foundation leverages mobile phones to capture data from private sector providers and integrate it into national health data systems. Brian Brink shared the example of the HealthSource, an integrated health records solution developed for Anglo American Thermal Coal’s corporate health services, which uses a confidential and secure reporting platform to provide quality health care and is now being piloted for use in public health clinics.
- Private sector companies can also engage in capacity-building programs with public sector counterparts to improve quality and value for money. Such programs have helped improve warehousing and distribution services for a more efficient commodity supply chain with the goal of eventually transferring management back to the public sector.
- With their unique knowledge of country landscapes, companies can ensure patients receive quality care, regardless of where they access the health system. In India, where TB patients tend to seek treatment in the private sector first, the Lilly MDR-TB partnership engages and trains pharmacists and chemists in quality standards and best practices for TB care. The partnership also establishes organizational linkages between private sector hospitals and national health systems.
- Private sector companies can also play a connecting role promoting dialogue between regional private sector stakeholders and national or regional planning networks. For example, Anglo American’s Health Source partnership with the city of Johannesburg grew out of ongoing engagement between the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Private Sector Constituency, a group of companies, and SADC Health Ministers.
Following presentations, there was a panel discussion on how health systems strengthening can be a prominent component of the Global Fund’s overall strategy for the 2017 to 2021 period. Ongoing development of the new strategy is being led by one of the Global Fund’s internal committees on strategy investment and impact (SIIC). Panelists Abdalla Sid Osman, Board member from the Global Fund’s Eastern Mediterranean Region Constituency and member of the SIIC, and Secretariat members Emanuele Capobianco and Viviana Mangiaterra discussed lessons from the implementation of the funding model and how HSS and private sector engagement can feature in the next strategy.