With declining levels of international donor funding for financing reproductive health programmes, developing country governments and international donors are looking towards private sector strategies to expand the supply of quality reproductive health services. One of the challenges of a health franchise is to improve the quality of services provided by independent private practitioners. Private providers are more likely to abide by the quality standards set by a franchiser if they see a financial benefit resulting from franchise participation. This study was conducted to measure whether (a) there were improvements in perceived quality of care and perceived access to health facilities once these facilities became part of a franchise and (b) improvements in perceived quality and perceived access were associated with increased client loyalty to franchised clinics. Franchisees were given basic reproductive health training for seven days and services marketing training for two days. Exit interviews were conducted with male and female clients at health facilities. A pre-test measurement was taken in April 2001, prior to the start of project activities. A post-test measurement was taken in February/March 2002, about 9 months after the pre-test. Multilevel regression analysis, which takes the hierarchical structure of the data into account, was used for the analysis. After taking provider-level variation into account and controlling for client characteristics, the analyses showed significant improvements in perceived quality of care and perceived access to services. Private provider participation in a franchise network helps improve client perceptions of quality of, and access to, services. Improvements in client perceptions of quality and access contribute to increased client loyalty to franchised clinics. Once increased client loyalty translates into higher client volumes, providers are likely to see the benefits of franchise participation. In turn, this should lead to increased provider willingness to remain part of the franchise and to abide by the standards of quality set by the franchiser.
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