The learning phase—especially the fieldwork step—is the cornerstone of the assessment process. Building on a comprehensive desk review, supported by secondary data analysis, the team synthesizes available information to further refine the approach and focus of in-country data collection. Fieldwork consists of interviews with local stakeholders, and site visits to address information gaps and gather insights and perceptions from multiple perspectives on the role of the private health sector. Before leaving the country, the team typically convenes a debriefing with key stakeholders, sharing preliminary findings and recommendations.

Information gathered in this phase should answer:

  • What are pressing public health concerns in the country? How does the public health sector view the contributions of the private health sector?
  • Who comprises the private health sector? What services do they provide and to whom?
  • What are the main barriers to private sector expansion?
  • What strategic health areas can and should the private sector expand into?
  • What are the gendered barriers and opportunities presented by private sector expansion? Is private sector growth likely to have a different affect on women than men, girls or boys?
  • How and to what degree is gender equality woven into the donor’s stated priorities? If the assessment is supported by USAID, look at how gender is addressed in the Country Development Cooperation Strategy or health office gender assessment.

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Step 1: Complete Desk Review

The desk review serves an important function in the assessment, providing a foundation upon which to build the subsequent steps. Desk review activities include scanning the literature, analyzing secondary data, and creating a reference list so that all documents are organized and easily accessible to all team members.

In consultation with the team leader, the team coordinator leads the desk review process. The purpose of this step is to:

  • Understand the country context including priority health issues.
  • Identify key themes, gaps, and opportunities by analyzing available secondary data.
  • Gather data and information to inform the final report.

Step 2: Perform Preliminary Analysis

Before starting fieldwork, it’s important for the team to take the time to do some higher-level thinking about what the desk review has revealed to date and then document learning, gaps, possible opportunities, and team roles in a field guide.

Step 3: Conduct Fieldwork

With the field guide in hand, the team is ready to begin in-country data collection. Fieldwork is critical to verifying information gleaned in the desk review, filling in gaps, and answering key questions about the private health sector.

This step involves:

  • Key informant interviews with stakeholders from the public and private health sectors, including site visits
  • Additional data collection, such as hard copy documents (gray literature) which may be available only in country
  • Travel to other regions to ensure a balanced view of the private health sector
  • Daily team debriefs to share notes and findings from interviews and site visits

Step 4: Debrief Key Stakeholders

After the team has concluded fieldwork, they often arrange a debriefing with the donor, which provides an opportunity to present preliminary impressions. Increasingly, other key stakeholders—representing both the public and private sectors—are invited to participate in this debriefing. This step facilitates rapid analysis of findings, provides an opportunity to vet initial impressions, and helps to generate momentum around assessment findings.

The team typically prepares a PowerPoint presentation of key findings and preliminary recommendations to share with the donor and/or local stakeholders. Often, this becomes the basis for the assessment report.


  • Reference list
  • Field guide
  • PowerPoint presentation of preliminary findings and recommendations

Phase 2 Team and Responsibilities

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