GS, KO, KW and JK declare no competing financial or personal interests. As noted in the text, AP is employed by and is a shareholder of GSK.
JK coordinated the production of each of the individual comments and drafted the abstract and background and summary. AP, KO, KB, and GS each prepared and developed their individual comments. Views expressed in individual sections are those of individual authors alone and do not necessarily represent the views of the other contributing authors. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
The role for the private sector in health remains subject to much debate, especially within the context of achieving universal health coverage.
This roundtable discussion offers diverse perspectives from a range of stakeholders – a health funder, a representative from an implementing organization, a national-level policy-maker, and an expert working in a large multi-national company – on what the future may hold for the private sector in health.
The first perspective comes from a health funder, who argues that the discussion about the future role of the private sector has been bogged down in language. He argues for a ‘both/and’ approach rather than an ‘either/or’ when it comes to talking about health service provision in low- and middle-income countries.
The second perspective is offered by an implementer of health insurance in sub-Saharan Africa. The piece examines the comparative roles of public sector actors, private sector actors and funding agencies, suggesting that they must work together to mobilize domestic resources to fund and deliver health services in the longer term.
Thirdly, a special advisor working in the federal government of Nigeria considers the situation in that country. He notes that the private sector plays a significant role in funding and delivering health services there, and that the government must engage the private sector or forever be left behind.
Finally, a representative from a multi-national pharmaceutical corporation gives an overview of global shifts that are creating opportunities for the private sector in health markets.
Overall, the roundtable discussants agree that the private sector will play an important role in future health systems. But we must agree a common language, work together, and identify key issues and gaps that might be more effectively filled by the private sector.