In global healthcare, quality and access are what matters – not who delivers it

hen the UN financing for development conference begins in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, there’s likely to be a big elephant in the room: the private sector.

Some commentators have warned of the possible implications of pursuing “ultra-free market” ideologies that see private companies as key providers of basic public services. Ignoring the private sector rather than working with it would seem like the most morally defensible approach when faced with the prospect of large corporations “selling” health and education services with the sole objective of turning a profit.

Sometimes, though – whether we like it or not – the private sector might be our only option. Take fragile and conflict-affected states: the World Bank estimates that more than 1.2 billion people live in countries affected by widespread conflict and political unrest. The UK Department for International Development and other donors haveflagged these countries as a “priority category”.

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