Harnessing Private Enterprise for Public Health
Antares is a collaborative project between the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and the Harvard Business School (HBS). David Bloom (HSPH) and Michael Chu (HBS) are the project’s directors. Antares brings together the strengths of the fields of public health and business to identify high-impact public health interventions that lend themselves to a commercial model.
Poverty and poor health perpetuate each other. Antares was created to address both. Antares is dedicated to the development of self-sustaining approaches to healthcare for low-income populations, based on the premise that if high-impact interventions can be delivered using commercial systems, they can extend coverage significantly beyond what has been possible to date. Through market mechanisms, Antares believes high-impact interventions can be driven to the massive scale, permanence, continuous efficacy and continuous efficiency necessary to generate lasting social impact.
Some people regard private enterprise as a predatory tiger to be shot. Others look on it as a cow they can milk. Not enough people see it as a healthy horse, pulling a sturdy wagon.
- Winston Churchill
Changing Healthcare for the Poor
Ultimately, Antares seeks to transform access to effective healthcare by the poor of the world through market-driven interventions that can significantly complement public health systems. It projects achieving this via collaborations with existing programs, the design of new models that will become industry examples and the dissemination of new knowledge across the academy, influencing the curricula of graduate schools of public health and business. In the process, it will broaden the reach of the private sector and help shape a conceptual framework for public health decision-makers to optimize the definition of national priorities and the regulation of commercial enterprises that provide healthcare to low-income families.
The Antares Approach to Priority Setting
The field of global health is in the midst of an exciting period of development. Measuring and reporting basic facts about the deficits and disparities in global health have been important to the field since its inception. Research emphasis shifted in the past decade to analysis of why deficits and disparities matter – ethically and morally, politically, socially, economically, and from the standpoint of international law and human rights.
It is well established today that global population health could be much better. The central question today is what to do about it. Priority setting, explicit and implicit, is a key task that arises constantly in the realm of intervention. When faced with limited resources and huge demands, how should we decide which problems deserve the most attention? And once we decide which problems to focus on, which options for intervention deserve the most resources?
An effective approach to priority setting must provide decision makers with a flexible and consistent means for making difficult choices while taking into account a range of complex data, literature, and contextual information. The Antares Matrix was created to help decision makers organize and augment their health data and knowledge, and to help inform health planning.