Public –private partnership in health care service
Kapou Malakar

Twenty five year-old Jarifa is a full-time domestic worker in East Delhi. Last year, her husband Siraj, a barber, was diagnosed with tuberculosis. She managed to get her husband admitted to a nearby public hospital. Siraj remained there for about three and a half months. During this time, she became the sole bread earner of her family of seven members. Had the family been able to afford to treat Siraj in a private hospital, would things be any different? Probably yes. Public-private partnership can possibly be a way that can help poor people like Jarifa and Siraj to get better health care.
Public private partnership (PPP) is a policy sponsored by World Health Organisation (WHO) that was implemented in India from 2003. Reports of WHO defines PPP as a method to bring together both public and private hospitals to improve the state of health of the population.

PPP programmes are implemented in the developing countries to make the health care service more equitable. Few states in India like Karnataka, Haryana and Orrissa have already started working on PPP policy in their respective health care schemes.

In Delhi, Arpana Swastha Kendra in Gautampuri is the only health centre which has been working under PPP policy . It functions in collaboration with Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), offering different services on the urban health care development programme.
Retired Brigadier Ashok Sondhi, administrative head of Arpana Swastha Kendra says: “No urban health programme can be fully successful unless there is a synergy of effort from all the quarters concerned. PPP can be an option when there is a big gap in the services of public and private hospitals in terms of infrastructure, quality and the cost of the services provided.”
He added that they have 23 renowned doctors from various fields who volunteered to work with them. “With their help we run a free OPD twice a week although it is not adequate,” he says.
How does PPP policy claim to be cost effective in its operation? Mr. Sondhi says: “We offer a medicine worth Rs.60 at a subsidised rate of Rs.20. The patient has to give a nominal fee for their treatment whether it is root canalling, X-rays or ultrasound.”

Arpana Swastha Kendra has been working with hospitals like Apollo, Sri Ganga Ram, AIIMS, Safdarganj and St. Stephens for various treatments and surgery. “For the treatment of tuberculosis, we are tied with Cheshire Homes with a comprehensive Dot Programme,” says Mr Sondhi.

Very recently, Arpana Swastha Kendra has tied up with AIIMS on a treatment programme for cervical cancer as a part of WHO pubic private partnership programme.

The best part in public private partnership scheme is its community development programme. “During the past five years, 30 self- help groups were formed with total members of over 500 women. It can help the community to be self sufficient”, adds Mr.Sondhi.

Experts say that the public and private sectors can potentially gain from one another in the form of resources, technology, skills and management practices. “Collaboration with the private sector in the form of Public-Private Partnership would improve quality, efficiency and accountability of the services,” says Dr Behera, Director of L.R.S. Institute of Tuberculosis & Respiratory Diseases.

Meanwhile, people in Gautampuri area are pleased with the services of Arpana Swastha Kendra, the one under PPP policy scheme.

Punam, a construction worker staying in Gautampuri locality says: “Once in every month community workers visit our home to find out our difficulties. We are glad that someone is there to help us out.”