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Public-Private Partnerships: Mobilising Resources to Achieve Public Health Goals


Public-private partnerships (PPP) can achieve positive public health results and at the same time meet the individual organisational goals of the partners. Such partnerships allow considerable leveraging of each partner’s resources and unique strengths, and results are often attained in less time, at lower cost, and with greater sustainability than efforts by any single partner.

A PPP – public-private partnership – for health is an approach to addressing public health (and social development) problems through the combined efforts of public, private, and development organisations. Each partner makes a contribution in its area of special competence, bringing in expertise that is often not available in development projects. The partners in a PPP rally around a common cause, while at the same time pursuing some of their own organisational objectives.

A key example is the Central American Handwashing Initiative in Central America where diarrheal disease is a serious threat to child survival and childhood malnutrition, which in turn increases the severity of other childhood diseases. From 1996 to 1999, public, private, and donor organisations in Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Honduras formed this Central American Handwashing Initiative. Together, four soap companies and two projects supported by the U. S. Agency for International Development (USAID) designed an advertising and promotional campaign for effective handwashing with soap aimed at reducing diarrheal disease in children. They collaborated with ministries of health and education and other development organisations in the region to carry out the campaign.