Participation of nongovernmental organizations in Iran's health-care system: Challenges and suggestions for improvement

Parvin Ebrahimi, Mohanna Rajabi, Aidin Aryankhesal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) play a critical role in modern health-care systems complementing state organizations. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the challenges of NGOs' participation in Iran's health-care system. Design/methodology/approach: This qualitative study was conducted in 2020. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews with 26 participants: 11 managers and experts at the office of NGOs in the Ministry of Health (MOH) and universities of medical sciences and 15 chief executive officers (CEOs) of health-related NGOs in Tehran, Iran. The participants were chosen using the non-probabilistic approach of purposive sampling with maximum variation. Data analysis was performed using the thematic analysis method and MAXQDA 10 software. Findings: Challenges of NGOs' participation in Iran's health-care system are categorized into external and internal challenges. Financial issues, the process of getting permissions, lack of trust in NGOs, weak relationships with the public sector and lack of law are identified as main challenges. Building trust in NGOs, passing the NGOs' law, making people more familiar with NGOs and capacity development are the most important measures that improve the role of NGOs and resolve barriers to their participation in Iran's health-care system. Originality/value: In this study, for the first time, the challenges of NGOs' participation in Iran's health-care system are investigated by examining the views of both the public sector and NGOs. Improving the participation of NGOs in the health-care system provides Iran's MOH with the opportunity to make use of the NGOs' capacities to eliminate public health issues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)397-407
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Health Governance
Issue number4
Early online date16 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 7 Dec 2021


  • Anthropology or sociology
  • Communication
  • Health law or regulation
  • Health-care quality
  • Management
  • Partnership working
  • Qualitative research

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