7-8 JUNE 2017 / Tour & Taxis / Brussels

Harnessing the Power of the Private Sector to Achieve the Health SDG

Harnessing the Power of the Private Sector to Achieve the Health SDG

Public-Private Partnerships to End AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

Thursday, June 8, 2017 - 09:00 to 10:15

Key points

  • Many people in Africa are so impoverished they do not have the financial means to access healthcare.
  • The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can be achieved but everyone has to play their part.
  • The Global Fund is a classic public-private partnership.
  • Different forms of cooperation and community-based entrepreneurs can help tackle the issue.
  • Future challenges include getting quality healthcare to the most marginalized communities.


This debate focused on how forging partnerships with the private sector can help tackle HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Eradicating these diseases is one of the aims of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the urgent need to do more in this area is clear from latest statistics.

In low-income countries, one child in 10 dies before the age of five, whereas in wealthier nations this number is only one in 143. The lifetime risk of dying in pregnancy and childbirth is one in 22 in Africa, one in 120 in Asia and one in 3,800 for a 15-year-old girl in developed countries.

The aim of the debate was to learn about what can be done to achieve the health-related SDGs, particularly through closer cooperation with the private sector.

The Global Fund, set up in 2002 primarily to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic, is a classic public-private partnership and a good example of how the private sector can be engaged in this area.

One speaker noted that the key issue is finding new and innovative ways to leverage investment for development from the private sector.

An official from the Dutch foreign ministry explained why this is so important in eradicating health inequalities, highlighting the innovation the private sector can bring.

Many people in developing countries are forced to pay illegally when they seek health treatment. This is where health financing and health insurance can play a part, enabling people to access high-quality healthcare, the discussion was told.

There is a need to engage the private sector much more than at present so that it takes a lead.

A speaker from Coca-Cola told participants how her company is actively engaged in health development in Africa, something she said had previously been seen as the domain of the state.

This changed, she said, when the company partnered with the Global Fund to work with health systems in Africa. Coca-Cola had the advantage of already having an elaborate distribution system in Africa, which enabled it to get into places that are often beyond the reach of others. Development in this field has now become one of the core competencies of her company.

She highlighted Project Last Mile, which works to improve availability of essential medicines and medical supplies in Africa. The project is a partnership between the Global Fund, the Coca-Cola Africa Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

It is just one illustration of how the private sector can contribute in different ways, not least because it has unique expertise and innovation.

Another Africa-based speaker spelled out how different forms of cooperation and community-based entrepreneurs can help reach those people who are in greatest need.

The ongoing problem in Africa is that while people obviously want to access healthcare, they are often so impoverished they do not have the financial means to do so, for even basic medicines.

Future challenges include getting healthcare to the most marginalised communities and, on this, the Coca-Cola distribution model could be used by others to take drugs to farflung clinics.

Even so, there is limited funding available, which illustrates the need to look for more innovative types of financing access to healthcare.

The overall aim, everyone agreed, has to be to directly involve communities themselves and ensure that the poorest people are not left without quality healthcare.


Reaching the most vulnerable populations will require a broad partnership and a more innovative approach. The private sector can play its part in transferring its skills but public sector leadership is also needed.

Organised by

    Christoph Benn
    Director of External Relations
    The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
    Ewout Irrgang
    Director, Advisory Services
    PharmAccess Foundation
    Susan Mboya
    The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation
    Hans Docter
    Director, Sustainable Economic Development
    Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands
    Louise Van Deth
    Executive Director
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