The first pre-iHEA congress symposium on the Role of the Private Sector in Health Care was held in conjunction with the [2009 VIIth iHEA](http://www.healtheconomics.org/congress/2009/) congress in Beijing. Around 100 participants attended the symposium and a number of studies were presented. Researchers active at the symposium were invited to submit their work to the journal [Health Policy and Planning](http://heapol.oxfordjournals.org/) for possible inclusion in a supplement to the journal. The papers submitted were subjected to the standard rigorous peer review procedures that the journal applies to all submissions. The process resulted in a special supplement on the [Role of the Private Sector in Health Care](http://heapol.oxfordjournals.org/content/26/suppl_1/i1.full) which was published in relation to the second pre-iHEA symposium on the same topic in Toronto in July 2011.
The eight papers in the supplement provide an important contribution to coherent frameworks for analyzing and developing health systems in different contexts in low- and middle-income countries. There is a growing acknowledgment that health system development for improved health and health care must include private actors. Researchers are gradually filling the gaps in knowledge necessary for this inclusion. These articles illustrate that private health sector research has moved beyond classifying and counting providers and users into assessment of mechanisms for harnessing the private sector and identifying conditions for their successful application.
A few examples of articles from the [supplement](http://heapol.oxfordjournals.org/content/26/suppl_1.toc) can be found below:
[Moving towards in-depth knowledge on the private health sector in low- and middle-income countries]( http://heapol.oxfordjournals.org/content/26/suppl_1/i1.full): A piece on the rise in data on the utilization of the private sector in health care.
[Role of the private sector in the provision of immunization services in low- and middle-income countries]( http://heapol.oxfordjournals.org/content/26/suppl_1/i4.full): A literature review on the role of the private sector.
[Predicting performance in contracting of basic health care to NGOs: experience from large-scale contracting in Uttar Pradesh, India](http://heapol.oxfordjournals.org/content/26/suppl_1/i13.full): A study assessing large scale contracting for delivery of basic health services in India.
[Comparison of trust in public vs private health care providers in rural Cambodia](http://heapol.oxfordjournals.org/content/26/suppl_1/i20.full): A study on the importance of trust in health care services.
[Comparing private sector family planning services to government and NGO services in Ethiopia and Pakistan: how do social franchises compare across quality, equity and cost?](http://heapol.oxfordjournals.org/content/26/suppl_1/i63.full): A proposed “evaluation framework to assist in simultaneously tracking performance on efficiency, quality and access by the poor in family planning services.”