Blind Optimism: Challenging the Myths about Private Health Care in Poor Countries

In the past few years Oxfam has found a number of influential donors
and international organisations increasingly advocate for private
sector health care delivery as a solution to slow progress on health
in poor countries.

Blind Optimism explores in depth the evidence available against a
number of arguments and assumptions made in favour of private sector
health care provision. It also looks to those developing countries
that have achieved significant successes in scaling up towards
universal and equitable access to health care and the policies they
have pursued.

Anna Marriott, for Oxfam International.

It concludes that there is very little empirical evidence in support
of so-called private sector solutions and that the potential risks of
a greater role for the private sector in health care delivery are
largely ignored.

At the same time publicly delivered services, although far from
perfect and often in need of substantial reform and support, are at
the heart of health services in poor countries with higher
performing, more pro-poor health systems.

In launching this new paper Oxfam is calling for a halt to the use of
unproven and risky policies that promote an expansion of the private
sector and threaten to undermine government capacity to deliver to
those most in need. At the same time governments must prioritise the
rapid scaling-up of free public provision of health services – the
only proven route to achieve health care for all.

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