Background: There is considerable interest in involving private practitioners (PPs) in tuberculosis (TB) control, but little experience.
Objective: To describe and discuss leadership, management and technical lessons learnt from the successful implementation of a public-private partnership (PPP) for TB control in Nepal.
Methods: Description and discussion of implementation of the PPP is based on feedback from the working group charged with developing the PPP, PPs involved in diagnosis and referral, NGOs providing direct observation of treatment and tracing of late patients, and members of the Nepal National TB Programme.
Findings: The process of building the partnership was slow and demoralising, yet with perseverance partners gradually increased their involvement and commitment to the PPP. Leadership was needed to foster communication and openness between partners. It was not necessary to involve all PPs: many patients bypassed PPs and went directly to the free DOTS centres.
Conclusion: An understanding of issues that arose during development of the Lalitpur PPP may assist assessment of the feasibility of PPPs in other settings, and increase the likelihood of successful implementation. The wider literature on partnerships may be useful to further inform the development of PPPs for health in developing countries.