Background: Health systems are expected to serve the population needs in an effective, efficient and equitable manner. Therefore, the importance of strengthening of public, private and community health systems has been emphasized time and again. In most of the developing countries, certain weaknesses and gaps in the government health systems have been hampering the achievement of improved health outcomes. Public sector in Pakistan has been deficient in the capacity to deliver equitable and quality health services and thus has been grossly underutilized. Methods. A qualitative study comprising in-depth interviews was conducted capturing the perceptions of the government functionaries, NGO representatives and donor community about the role and position of NGOs in health systems strengthening in Pakistan's context. Analysis of the data was done manually to generate nodes, sub-nodes and themes. Results: Since many years, international and local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have endeavored to fill the gaps in health service delivery, research and advocacy. NGOs have relatively performed better and achieved the results because of the flexible planning and the ability to design population based projects on health education, health promotion, social marketing, community development and advocacy. This paper captures the need and the opportunity of public private partnership in Pakistan and presents a framework for a meaningful engagement of the government and the private and nonprofit NGOs. Conclusion: Involving the NGOs for health system strengthening may eventually contribute to create a healthcare system reflecting an increased efficiency, more equity and good governance in the wake of the Millennium Development Goals. Nevertheless, few questions need to be answered and pre-requisites have to be fulfilled before moving on.
- developing countries
- health systems strengthening
- non-governmental organizations
- public private partnership