Little is known about the role of private sector providers in providing and financing immunization. To fill this gap, the authors conducted a study in Benin, Malawi, and Georgia to estimate (1) the proportion of vaccinations taking place through the private sector; (2) private expenditures for vaccination; and (3) the extent of regulation.
In each country, the authors surveyed a stratified random sample of 50 private providers (private for-profit and not-for-profit) using a standardized, pre-tested questionnaire administered by trained enumerators. In addition, the authors conducted 300 or more client exit interviews in each country.
The three countries had different models of private service provision of vaccination. In Malawi, 44% of private facilities, predominantly faith-based organizations, administered an estimated 27% of all vaccinations. In Benin, 18% of private for-profit and not-for-profit facilities provided vaccinations, accounting for 8% of total vaccinations. In Georgia, all sample facilities were privately managed, and conducted 100% of private vaccinations. In all three countries, the Ministries of Health (MoHs) supplied vaccines and other support to private facilities. The study found that 6–76% of clients paid nominal fees for vaccination cards and services, and a small percentage (2–26%) chose to pay higher fees for vaccines not within their countries’ national schedules. The percentage of private expenditure on vaccination was less than 1% of national health expenditures. The case studies revealed that service quality at private facilities was mixed, a finding that is similar to those of other studies on private sector vaccination. The three countries varied in how well the MoHs managed and supervised private sector services.