The benefits of setting the ground rules and regulating contracting practices
Farba Lamine Sall, Abatcha Kadaï, Guy Andriantsara, & Jean Perrot
In recent years, health systems have increasingly made use of contracting practices; despite results that are often promising, there have also been failures and occasionally harsh criticism of such practices. This has made it even more necessary to regulate contracting practices. As part of its stewardship function, in other words its responsibility to protect the public interest, the ministry of health has the responsibility of introducing the tools needed for such regulation. Several tools are available to help it do this. Some of them, such as standard contracts or framework contracts, useful as they may be, are nevertheless specific and ad hoc. Contracting policies, when carefully linked to overall health policies, are undoubtedly the most comprehensive of these tools, since they enable contracting to be accommodated within the management of the health system as a whole and thus take into account its potential contribution to improving health system performance. However, the requirements for success are not present automatically and it has to be ensured that there are mechanisms for vitalizing these regulatory mechanisms and that the key actors make proper use of the framework laid down by the ministry of health. The first three authors of this article have participated in the preparation and implementation of national policies on contracting in their own countries, viz. Chad, Madagascar and Senegal.