Role of nongovernmental organizations in Iran's health system: What do they do and what can they do?

Mohanna Rajabi, Parvin Ebrahimi, Aidin Aryankhesal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
5 Downloads (Pure)


BACKGROUND: Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) as entities out of the health sector can play various roles and functions at different levels of the health systems. The present study was conducted to investigate NGOs' potential and actual functions in Iran's health system. MATERIALS AND METHODS: This exploratory study was carried out in two parts from April 2020 to December 2020 in Tehran, Iran. For the first part, the statute of 65 NGOs was used for document review, and in the second part, the required data were collected using semi-structured interviews with 26 key informants from the governmental sector and NGOs. Data were analyzed using the framework analysis method and MAXQDA software. RESULTS: According to data analysis, the results of this study were classified into two sections of NGOs' current functions and expected functions in Iran's health system. The current functions of NGOs in Iran's health system include service delivery, educational, research, and information activities, financing, supportive and facilitation activities, and advocacy. Other functions in which NGOs could play a role include health system management, education, and service providing and support activities. CONCLUSION: In this study, the various roles of NGOs in Iran's health system were explained. NGOs can act actively as the consulting and executive hand alongside the public sector in the lowest to the highest levels of Iran's health system. Hence, health sector managers and policymakers must facilitate NGOs' involvement in the health sector and use their capacities and capabilities to improve health and increase public access to health-care services.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101
JournalJournal of Education and Health Promotion
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 23 Mar 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Health policy
  • health promotion
  • health services
  • health-care sector
  • nongovernmental organization
  • public health
  • public-private partnership

Cite this