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This is not a love-fest

posted Jul 2, 2013, 6:12 AM by Jeff Knezovich   [ updated Jul 4, 2013, 10:00 PM by Kate Hawkins ]
David Bishai, JHSPH

On July 6th, the Private Sector in Health Symposium will convene for the third time in six years before the International Health Economics Association (iHEA) World Congress, and builds upon a well-attended webinar series in the run-up to the symposium.. The symposium attracts a broad spectrum of scholars from multiple disciplines. It won’t just be economists, and it won’t be a love-fest for unleashing free market economics in health care systems. The private sector in health is problematic, but we are going to have to live with it for quite some time -- so it’s a good thing so many intrepid scholars have joined forces to find ways to get the private sector to effectively deliver high quality services, to reach the poor, and to reduce the financial jeopardy for patients who access it.

The private sector in health is too big to ignore and too complex to leave to just one discipline. As Julio Frenk noted at the key note address of our last meeting in Toronto in 2011--the private sector in health demands stewardship. Stewards do not do all the nitty gritty work, but they ensure that resources that they oversee are used wisely and fairly on behalf of others.

The Sydney Symposium on July 6 will show how this community of scholars has answered Dr. Frenk’s call to assist civil society and governments with stewardship. There are two sessions devoted to “Building Institutions for Private Sector Performance” that focus on ways to assemble public private partnerships and ways that the public sector can become engaged. There are four sessions devoted to improving and assessing the quality of care in private sector practices. Equity and the impact of the private sector on the poor is covered in three sessions and there are two sessions on health care financing in the private sector.

Presenters are global and the areas studied range are global too with the balance weighted towards low- and middle-income countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Our Opening Keynote address by Bruce Bonyhady will address how Australia has grappled with its private sector in health and the Closing Plenary by Mushtaque Chowdhury will draw on experiences from Asia. 

It’s going to be an amazing day! If you are already registered, lucky you. If you are going to be in Sydney but haven't yet signed up to join us, register now. If you can’t make it, keep on eye on Twitter on @psinhealth or follow our hashtag at #healthmkt next July 6 for livetweets from the day. We will also include much of the material from the day, including presentations and short videos on the conference website at http://www.pshealth.org.