Expanding Private Health Services for Benin’s Women and Children
- Benin’s private health sector has struggled to meet service gaps for women and children
- Multi-pronged approach boosts private provider skills and sector advocacy
- Options increase and improve for private health services
Maternal and child mortality remain high in Benin despite improvements over the past two decades. The country has an unmet need for reproductive, maternal, neonatal, and children’s health (RMNCH) services—including malaria prevention for pregnant women, family planning counseling and contraceptives, and treatment of malaria and diarrhea in young children.
Commercial, non-profit, and faith-based health facilities, practitioners, and pharmacies could fill this gap. But Benin’s private health sector has long underperformed due to uneven service quality and a regulatory environment that makes it hard to register, get accredited, advertise, or set prices. Low- and middle-income people especially suffer, as those with means typically seek health services outside the country.
To improve health outcomes in Benin for women and children, Abt leads the USAID Private Sector Health Partnership Activity (PSHPA), building on our previous private sector analyses and engagement in the country. To professionalize service quality, the project spearheads training-of-trainers in private health facilities on topics like emergency obstetric and newborn care as well as identification and treatment of gender-based violence. PSHPA also has revitalized public-private partnerships for acquiring anti-malarial products and managing biomedical waste.
Abt mentors private sector facilities on how to reliably report patient statistics to national databases. The project also expanded the technical and business capacity of a new private sector umbrella association, the Plateforme du Secteur Privé de la Santé (PSSP)—a subcontractor to PSHPA. PSSP now can support registration and accreditation for its members and advocate for changes in laws and regulations affecting the private sector.
Over five years, more than 95 percent of Benin’s private RMNCH health facilities received training and technical assistance from PSHPA. Accreditation processes mid-project found that provider competency levels at these facilities soared from an average 15 percent to more than 75 percent following PSHPA support. Over the life of the project, the rate at which private health facilities submitted complete health data to the national DHIS2 database tripled from 15 percent to more than 45 percent.
PSSP now represents 20 private sector health associations and is considered the main private sector interlocutor with Benin’s Ministry of Health. In addition to Abt, it holds contracts with other implementing partners, including Unicef and the Belgian development agency. Health outcomes at private health facilities have improved, including the number of women receiving malaria prophylactics and uterotonics to reduce postpartum hemorrhage and the number of children treated for diarrhea.
Special EOP Event:
On June 1, 2023, the USAID’s Benin Private Sector Health Partnership Activity (PSHPA) – led by Abt Global – held its end of project event in Cotonou, Benin, celebrating five years of achievements (2018-2023). The event was held at the Benin Royal Hotel and attended by approximately 120 participants including USAID/Benin, Ministry of Health authorities, the National Agency for Primary Health Care (ANSSP), the PSSP (Benin’s Private Health Sector Platform), departmental health directors, health zone managers, and project beneficiaries. PSHPA’s Chief of Party, Jean-Placide Agbogba, technical staff from Abt, partners EnCompass and MCD, and the PSSP presented activity highlights, results, and lessons learned. The event showcased the private health sector’s contribution to improved Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (RMNCH) outcomes through increased access to and use of quality health products and services, in 34 health zones over the past five years.