Vouchers revisited: can small enterprises save government programmes?
In Tanzania, where malaria is the biggest killer and pregnant women and small children are particularly at risk, the challenge of bringing insecticide- treated nets to poor, remote rural areas is a considerable one. This article describes how microenterprises and small businesses are providing a cost-effective retail service to the public sector, receiving their usual commercial mark-up as payment for this service. Vouchers are the vehicle of exchange throughout the system, enabling target clients to acquire nets, and providing the means for tracking the impact and outreach of the programme. As results are being monitored, there is evidence that not only is the public-private partnership a success, but that the commercial distribution of unsubsidized insecticide-treated nets has been strengthened and widened.