This document assesses the current importance— and potential—of the private sector in contributing to child health. The potential is vast. In many countries private and non-governmental providers are more commonly consulted for child health illnesses than public providers are. Even poor families often use private sector services. Families spend relatively large amounts of money for curative services in the private sector, even when there are cheaper public sector alternatives available. However, in many settings private providers are poorly regulated—and the technical quality of the services they provide is questionable.
The principal objective of this paper is to identify existing and potential strategies at the national and international level to better harness the potential of private sector to improve child health. The target audiences for the paper include ministries of health in low and middle-income countries, and program managers and technical staff working with child health programs in international organizations.