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Trop Med Int Health. 2004 Apr;9(4):A4-15.

Mectizan Donation Program: evaluation of a public-private partnership.

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Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.


The Mectizan Donation Program (MDP) has been perceived as a highly effective public health programme, and as a possible model for addressing future problems in international health. This evaluation examines how the MDP partnership has been functioning from the perspectives of partner organizations. The results of a survey of 25 partners show that the perceived benefits far outweigh the problems, and that the direct costs to the organizations have been minimal. The partnership is rated highly on many aspects of governance and management, with relatively few problems identified. A factor analysis demonstrated that a wide range of factors have influenced the partners' perceptions. The benefits with the largest weights appear to be those related to external perceptions of the organization, and those indicating that the organization feels that its opinions will matter and lead to action in the partnership. The biggest factors influencing the positive perceptions on the governance and management of the MDP partnership appear to be the involvement of senior leaders from different organizations, and being able to agree on priorities. The MDP has been able to involve a large and heterogeneous number of partner organizations through relatively informal mechanisms that rely on goodwill and reciprocity. The survey results show how there was a strong alignment of the MDP with the interests of the various partners, and that a manageable number of problems were addressed and services provided. While having long-term goals, the MDP and the onchocerciasis control programmes have been effective at demonstrating the effectiveness of the approach through regular, professional, and outcome-oriented evaluations. Although the MDP is considered to be central to concerns of national officials, this feature is not rated as high as public perceptions, the internal characteristics of the partnership, or its accomplishments. Similarly, the need to secure resources is not viewed as a major determinant of the partnership's success, perhaps because resources were readily available through Merck and the partner organizations and programmes. These findings, along with the strategic and operational success of the MDP confirm the view that this type of public-private partnership should be pursued vigorously in other areas of public health. Other potential partnerships would do well to examine the characteristics of the MDP partnership, with careful attention to the features of its governance and the management, including a strong alignment of interests with partners, balancing a long-term vision with clarity of roles and intensive management of coordination, and professional and results-oriented accountability.

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