Private Health Care Sector

We partner with the private sector to leverage resources, increase efficiency in building health capacity, and improve equitable access to respectful quality care.

Kate Holt/MCSP

Private providers are an increasingly important source of health care in low- and middle-income countries (LMICS), providing more than half of all health services in Sub-Saharan Africa.1 These formal and informal providers – such as private clinics, pharmacists, and private retail drug shops – are often a ‘first stop’ for maternal and child health, voluntary family planning, and reproductive health care, especially among poorer households.2 Families turn to these services because they are more likely to reach areas where the public sector does not, and they often perceive private care as higher quality.

Yet the rapidly growing private health care sector poses significant challenges to maternal and child survival. Private providers often lack access to updated clinical standards, training, and quality medicines provided by governments and donors. They also often operate independently with minimal oversight, contributing to poorer health outcomes among women and children.3

MOMENTUM’s Approach

We recognize that engaging private providers is critical to accelerating reductions in maternal and child deaths. By strengthening the capacity of private providers, they are able to deliver high-quality and evidence-based maternal, newborn, and child (MNCH) health care and voluntary family planning (FP) services. We also expand public-private partnerships to ensure that countries utilize a total market approach for improved access and coverage of MNCH care and FP services, products, and information.4


Enhance access to quality care in a variety of settings

MOMENTUM mentors and supports private providers and institutions to improve the quality of care that they provide. We tailor our technical assistance to the local context, addressing gaps that contribute to poor maternal and child health outcomes, such as poor adherence to clinical standards of care in private rural maternities. At the government level, we help ministries of health better integrate, serve, and supervise private providers as an approach for improving private providers’ technical capacity and oversight.

A student health worker administers a vaccine to a baby in Sokoto, Nigeria
Karen Kasmauski/MCSP

Strengthen private provider capacity

Private providers’ ability to deliver and sustain comprehensive and quality MNCH care and FP services varies widely in LMICs. MOMENTUM works closely with other USAID private sector health programs to ensure that their activities with private providers employ state-of-the-art technical approaches. We also build the sustainability and resilience of private providers and networks to become long-term providers of quality maternal and child health care and family planning services and products.

A staff nurse prepares for a tubal ligation procedure.
Mubeen Siddiqui/MCSP

Expand public-private partnerships

MOMENTUM identifies and encourages new models of strategic partnership between the public and private sectors. These partnerships can increase the reach, sustainability, and cost-effectiveness of MNCH care and FP services in partner countries, offering benefits to providers such as links to formal training, commodities, or capacity strengthening networks.

A group of young people in Uganda discuss family planning with a community health educator
Jonathan Torgovnik/Getty Images/Images of Empowerment


  1. International Finance Corporation (IFC),  IFC’s Role and Additionality – A Primer. World Bank Group (2009).
  2.  Smith E, Brugha R and Zwi A, Working with Private Sector Providers for Better Health Care: An Introductory Guide,” London, Options and LSHTM (2001).
  3. Basu S, Andrews J, Kishore S, Stuckler D, “Comparative performance of private and public healthcare systems in low- and middle-income countries: a systematic review,” PLoS Medicine 9(6) (2012)
  4.  USAID, A Total Market Approach to Family Planning Services, 2016,

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