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India made noteworthy progress in reducing maternal and child mortality since the declaration of the Millennium Development Goals in 2000. To further accelerate progress and meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), 2030, cohesive action is required from the myriad stakeholders- governments, private health sector, social entrepreneurs, development partners, donors, and NGOs. Given its rapid growth and ability to innovate, private healthcare has an important role to play in complementing public health systems and supporting governments’ efforts to reach the SDGs. But these businesses need support to reach scale, become more inclusive, and have a significant impact in saving the lives of women and children. The Practitioners’ Forum is an attempt to converge private practitioners across the RMNCH spectrum to discuss and update technical know-how and align efforts to meet the project’s goal on multi-stakeholder engagement.
Under the USAID supported VRIDDHI project in six intervention states, John Snow Inc (JSI) India, in partnership with IPE Global, is developing a strategic road map to engage with the Private health sector for scaling up proven high impact RMNCH+A interventions. JSI’s strategy to engage private sector and create the Practitioners’ Forum has four key steps starting with the landscaping study of private providers in six USAID priority states and culminating in institutionalising the private sector engagement strategy in selected states.
The landscaping assessment reinforced known challenges in engaging with private sector and revealed state specific nuances such as variable compliance to legal standards, low compliance to treatment protocols even in presence of specialised medical personnel, to name a few. Based on these findings and drawing from experiences across the country JSI under VRIDDHI project organised a high-level interagency meet on February 21, 2017 for engaging professional associations of neonatologists, paediatricians and gynaecologists to collaborate on strengthening reach and quality of RMNCH services for the most vulnerable populace. The even attended by policy makers from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, President’s of leading professional agencies, USAID and other donors and development partners led to key recommendations for follow-on plans in the selected states.
Since, JSI already has an existing Memorandum of Understanding with Federation of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Societies of India and Indian Academy of Paediatrics, we can leverage these formal association and agreement to reach out to its thousands of private providers in six USAID priority states.
Key components of the Practitioners’ Forum
To connect, empower and engage private service provider in high priority districts, JSI under VRIDDHI project is advocating for digital health interventions (ICT, mHealth, EHealth) that will impact health outcomes significantly only when routinely used, or institutionalized, as a common practice in service delivery. When institutionalized, digital health interventions will empower and equip service providers with real-time, recent RMNCH innovation and interventions and Government of India guidelines thus addressing current capacity issues and improving quality of care. The Practitioners’ Forum will be innovative and ICT enabled, where private sector service providers with similar interests will be able to connect to share their knowledge, challenges, experiences and promote collaboration between public and private facilities. Through this forum, quality of care surveys and feedback solicitation from members on knowledge products and services will be undertaken based on which new partnership initiatives can be planned.