Harnessing the power of public-private partnerships in healthcare

Imperatives for GCC governments


The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)1 countries will face a significant challenge in managing future healthcare costs. Healthcare spending is accelerating, in part because of the rising incidence of chronic diseases. Thanks to systemic transformation, strategic planning, and population screening programs, governments understand that the current model, in which the state shoulders most of the direct financial burden and other social costs, is unsustainable over the long term. Governments need a different approach that invites the private sector to play a role as a means of taming costs, improving quality of service, and providing access to expertise.

The GCC should use the public–private partnership (PPP) mechanism, which has been successfully applied globally, to increase private-sector participation. Governments can shape PPPs depending upon the different capabilities and appetites for risk of the public and private partners. PPPs come in many varieties and they can be customized for each country’s circumstances. Health systems in the GCC provide a range of opportunities for private-sector players, including care provision, financing, healthcare supplies, and health education.

GCC governments will need to remove institutional hurdles to the deployment of PPPs and create an enabling regulatory, operational, and financial environment. This requires the correct legal and institutional framework for PPP governance and oversight, followed by a structured process for identifying and executing a pipeline of PPP healthcare projects. The careful and rigorous introduction of PPPs into healthcare can provide citizens with three mutually supporting healthcare improvements: greater accessibility, higher quality care, and an affordable price for patients and governments.

1 The Gulf Cooperation Council consists of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.


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