Eleanor Beth Whyle* and Jill Olivier School of Public Health and Family Medicine, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
In low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), the private sector—including international donors, non-governmental organizations, for-profit providers and traditional healers—plays a significant role in health financing and delivery. The use of the private sector in furthering public health goals is increasingly common. By working with the private sector through public–private engagement (PPE), states can harness private sector resources to further public health goals. PPE initiatives can take a variety of forms and understanding of these models is limited. This paper presents the results of a Campbell systematic literature review conducted to establish the types and the prevalence of PPE projects for health service delivery and financing in Southern Africa. PPE initiatives identified through the review were categorized according to a PPE typology. The review reveals that the full range of PPE models, eight distinct models, are utilized in the Southern African context. The distribution of the available evidence—including significant gaps in the literature—is discussed, and key considerations for researchers, implementers, and current and potential PPE partners are presented. It was found that the literature is disproportionately representative of PPE initiatives located in South Africa, and of those that involve for-profit partners and international donors. A significant gap in the literature identified through the study is the scarcity of information regarding the relationship between international donors and national governments. This information is key to strengthening these partnerships, improving partnership outcomes and capacitating recipient countries. The need for research that disaggregates PPE models and investigates PPE functioning in context is demonstrated.