Qualitative evaluation of a public-private partnership for reproductive health training in Papua New Guinea

Rural Remote Health. 2018 Dec;18(4):4608. doi: 10.22605/RRH4608. Epub 2018 Dec 12.


Introduction: The recent policy environment in both Papua New Guinea and Australia for partnering with private entities to address health issues has led to a public-private partnership (PPP) between the National Department of Health in Papua New Guinea, the Australian Government and the Oil Search Foundation. A reproductive health training unit was formed to provide health worker training in essential obstetric care and emergency obstetric care. This article provides a qualitative evaluation of the PPP, looking at facilitating features and barriers to the PPP's target of improving the competence of frontline health workers in obstetric care service provision in Papua New Guinea.

Method: A qualitative methodology gathered data since the PPP's inception in 2012. A dataset of 85 interviews with partners and relevant stakeholders from across Papua New Guinea was analysed using thematic analysis.

Results: Themes of facilitating features of the PPP were (1) understanding and agreeing with the national plan for PPPs and maternal and child health; (2) having strong champions, strong relationships and a formal decision-making body; and (3) creating autonomy and branding. Themes outlining the barriers to the PPP's effectiveness were (1) lacking governance framework creating confusion in decision making and roles and responsibilities; (2) differing institutional cultures and ownership struggles; and (3) lacking capacity within the institutes themselves, particularly the National Department of Health.

Conclusion: The findings of this service provision case study confirm what has been found in other infrastructure-led PPPs. Further research into how to overcome power imbalances between partners in a PPP as well as setting up a governance framework in a dynamic environment could inform this growing area of collaboration between the private and public sectors.

Keywords: Papua New Guinea; essential obstetric care; public-private partnership; reproductive health; training; emergency obstetric care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Australia
  • Female
  • Health Personnel / education*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Public-Private Sector Partnerships*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Reproductive Health / education*