BACKGROUND: Iranian health nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) could play a variety of roles at many levels of Iran's health system, but their participation in the health sector is far from ideal. Therefore, this study was conducted to identify practical solutions for increasing the role and function of NGOs in the Iranian health system. MATERIALS AND METHODS: This qualitative study was conducted between 2020 and 2021 in Tehran, Iran. The data for this study were gathered through 32 in-depth semi-structured interviews with 11 managers from the Ministry of Health as well as from Iran and Tehran universities of medical sciences and 21 Chief executive officers and directors of health NGOs. Data were analyzed by the content analysis approach using the MAXQDA 10 software. RESULTS: The facilitators for expanding the function and roles of NGOs in Iran's health system are classified into two groups of legal and structural mechanisms. 'The existence of mandatory laws,' 'government support for NGOs,' 'the formulation of standard strategic planning and goals,' 'the establishment of a database and a network of NGOs,' and 'the establishment of independent organizational units as the connectors and coordinators of NGOs' affairs in the public sector' are the critical facilitators for the improvement of NGOs' roles in Iran's health system. CONCLUSION: According to the findings of this study, only limited measures and efforts have been made to improve NGOs' roles and participation in the Iranian health system; at the same time, NGOs' participation in the health sector is far from ideal. Iranian health NGOs are at the beginning of this route, and they would inevitably require various legislative and structural mechanisms to succeed.
- Healthcare sector
- nongovernmental organizations
- public-private partnership