Strengthening the Private Health Sector in Uganda through Social Franchising

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Sonja Perkins

Sonja Hoel Perkins invests in people and companies that matter. She is the founder of Project Glimmer and Broadway Angels. Project Glimmer inspires at-risk teenage girls and women to believe in themselves by letting them know their community cares. Broadway Angels is a network of top female venture capitalists and entrepreneurs. Sonja has been a venture capitalist for over 30 years and was named one of the “Top Most Powerful People in Global Finance”. Sonja serves on the boards of 128 Technology, The Pristine Mind Foundation and The Center for Politics at The University of Virginia.

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Of Ugandans visited private health care facilities versus only 37% using the public health sector.

In 3 years

The project plans to grow Tunza from 3 to 30 clinics

The Issue

In many low- and middle-income countries, the private sector is a major player in delivery of health services, contributing as much as 60% of all health care provided. However, private providers are typically poorly regulated, and their operations can be fraught with inefficiencies, leading to poor quality of care and more expensive, less sustainable health services.

In Uganda, the private health sector plays a significant role in health care delivery, with an estimated 2,000 private-for-profit providers, however, critical gaps remain. Significant numbers of Ugandans do not have access or cannot afford health services, especially in rural areas. Uganda’s health system faces challenges in expanding its health care coverage as well as improving its quality, efficiency, and lowering its costs.

Pilot And Learn

PSI is using “social franchising” in Uganda to overcome these challenges in the private health sector and expand access to quality, affordable health services. Social franchising helps private providers improve and expand their health care provisions.

Social franchising works by linking independently owned private health clinics into social franchise networks operated by a ‘franchisor’, such as PSI. The franchisor offers a package of support, including clinical training, quality supervision, and affordable access to specialized medicines and supplies. In exchange, the participating clinics, called ‘franchisees,’ are better able to provide a range of health services at high quality standards and affordable prices.

PSI’s social franchise in Uganda, called Tunza, was launched as a pilot in 2016. Lessons learned from implementation of three pilot clinics has led PSI to its current point of readiness to expand and scale-up. This project will build on the initial pilot success to expand the clinic footprint, to reach more communities with trusted health services.

Leverage And Scale

This project is working to solidify the social franchise model at PSI, with the goal of moving the clinics toward financial sustainability, with less reliance on donor funding. The lessons learned from this project will lead to an expansion in the model, which will strengthen the network by providing cost-savings through things like pooled procurement for volume purchases of medicine at discounted rates. This means more affordable, quality health care for the people of Uganda.