DFID and the privatisation of health and education
by Jessica Hamer, Health Policy Advisor, Oxfam POSTED BY MOHGA KAMAL-YANNI ON JUN 8TH, 2015
Following on from the UK government’s advocacy that WHO should speedily adopt its seriously flawed Framework on Non State Actors (FENSA) this OXFAM Global Health Check article on a report by Global Justice Now is very welcome. The GJN report maps a variety of initiatives supported by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) to open up health and education markets to private firms, such as a £7m girls education partnership with Coca Cola in Nigeria. CLICK HERE
Here are some excerpts: The first report by Global Justice Now maps a variety of initiatives supported by DFID to open up health and education markets to private firms – from a £25 million project with Adam Smith International aiming to enrol 50,000 more children in private schools in Kenya, to a £7million partnership with Coca-Cola on girls’ education and training in Nigeria. For Oxfam, the dangers of the promotion of privatisation of health and education services, especially in relation to the rising tide of global inequality, are clear. Private services benefit the richest first and foremost, leaving people in poverty behind[i]. When health care is sold through the private sector for example, quality care and medicines are often available only to those who can afford it, while poor people may be forced to rely on low-quality or unqualified care like drug hawkers and grocery shops selling medicines[ii].
Indeed ICAI’s report notes that a survey undertaken of a HANSHEP programme operating in Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria – the African Health Markets for Equity – found ‘that less than 1% of people using facilities supported by AHME were from the bottom income quintile in Ghana and other participating countries’. Prioritising the private sector can see public services eroded as scarce financial and human resources are diverted from the public to the private system, through an internal ‘brain drain’ and expensive public-private contracts. Oxfam’s exposé of a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) hospital in Lesotho, found that the hospital was costing at least three times the amount of the old public hospital it was built to replace for example, amounting to 51% of the total health budget for the entire country[iii].
The International Finance Corporation (IFC) – manager of the DFID-supported PPP advisory facility mentioned above – advised on this PPP arrangement, reaping a $720,000 ‘success fee’ for its work[iv]. Debates on the role of public and private actors in health and education are increasingly relevant as the development community prepares for this summer’s Financing for Development (FFD) summit, where mechanisms for financing the new post-2015 development goals will be discussed.
A submission led by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) responding to the draft negotiating text for the Summit, pushes the insertion of new language to promote ‘blended finance’ (public and private) and a bigger role for private finance, including ‘using limited public finance to mobilize private’. In one shocking suggestion, the submission also advocates for the commitment to ‘move away from harmful, unsustainable [private sector investments]’ to be deleted too. ….. Here are some