2020 - Year in Review
Publication date: 2020
This year, COVID-19 confounded our expectations of a robust supplies ecosystem and plunged us into As the drama unfolded, we re- committed to our central mission: to protect the availability, quality, choice and affordability of reproductive health supplies, even – or especially – in this time of crisis. We held up a light for our member organizations – we offered a closer look into supply chain data; we empowered governments to make informed lifesaving decisions; and we dared our community to challenge time-worn assumptions of our landscape. the darkness of the unknown. Our greetings this year-end come to you flecked with sky lanterns ― symbols the world over for connection, hope and good wishes for the new year. We cut through the COVID-19 infodemic by focusing global attention on supplies This year, our thought leadership came to the fore. As COVID-19 began undermining the availability of supplies and services, we reached out to the wider community, we worked to separate hearsay from fact, and we embarked on the development of a new road map to build resilient public health supply systems. We called for beleaguered menstrual health supplies to be declared essential, because periods don’t end in pandemics. We rallied partners around an urgent call for data sharing. And we supported governments, donors and advocates to prioritize https://medium.com/its-about-supplies/access-to-menstrual-health-supplies-during-covid-19-what-have-we-learnt-%C2%B9-ec8b55e5f390 https://www.rhsupplies.org/fileadmin/uploads/rhsc/Projects/Covid-19/Documents/Joint_Statement_on_the_Importance_of_Continued_Family_Planning_Data_Sharing_and_Collaboration.pdf contraceptive access in these troubled times. We’re guiding partners to see the supply implications of COVID-19 mitigation strategies As COVID-19 restrictions dampened the demand for provider-based supplies and services, interest in self- care methods expanded significantly. To help planners anticipate what such a shift means for supplies, we devised MICRO, an online tool for helping countries model the supply implications of COVID mitigation efforts. MICRO was profiled in scientific journals and, within weeks, was being applied by UNFPA, the World Bank, the GFF, and other development agencies. https://www.rhsupplies.org/activities-resources/tools/micro/ We devised a way for suppliers and buyers to predict and prevent shipment disruptions COVID-19 has had a dramatic effect on supply chains everywhere. Home confinement and port closures have wrought havoc on deliveries. But how is a procurer or country government to know how much risk their shipments might face? The RHSC commissioned D-RISC, a cutting-edge tool that triangulates data to offer risk scenarios for individual shipments. We’re improving supply chain efficiency by connecting governments directly with manufacturers Countries invest considerable time and effort corresponding with manufacturers to place orders and track shipments. Now, thanks to the VAN, countries can access and https://www.rhsupplies.org/activities-resources/tools/d-risc/ https://www.rhsupplies.org/microsites/gfpvan/about.html download their shipping data in real- time. This year, Ethiopia secured the approval of one of its major suppliers to use the VAN to directly access its shipping data. This move signals a new trend in which manufacturers and governments can view the same data, thereby opening the door to prospects for direct procurement. We’re supporting countries in ordering only what they need, preventing waste and saving money Countries with direct access to the VAN can now see for themselves whether the supplies they’ve been buying really do line up with user demand. This increased insight helps countries avoid over- and under- purchasing. One government in southern Africa found it had been over-forecasting its implant needs for years―a realization that led it to reduce its forecasts by nearly 50% and adjust future orders accordingly. Similarly, in West Africa, Nigeria used the VAN to detect an overstock of injectable contraceptives, which then prompted it to delay a scheduled shipment and donate excess stock to another African country. We found a way for the manufacturing community to speak with one voice Our Manufacturers’ Group enables more than 33 commercial and generic manufacturers to engage with one another, compare notes, and share concerns with the broader supplies community. Their voice is further amplified by an elected Chair, who sits on the Coalition’s Executive Community and is recognized by governments, multilateral agencies, and other stakeholders as a credible spokesperson for manufacturer interests. We showed that better data visibility, put to good use, can increase product availability and eliminate expiries We supported Burundi’s health ministry and i+Solutions to introduce an electronic Logistics Management Information System, MEDEXIS, in 30 emergency obstetric health and neonatal care facilities and six distribution pharmacies. This effort, which offered an end-to-end view of the supply chain in real time, saw the near elimination of product expiries, a reduction in stockouts of both family planning and post abortion care products, and a dramatic decline in the time required for inventory management by health care workers. We’re helping partners work better together by seeing better together In many countries, women’s contraceptive needs are met through some combination of public sector and social marketed supplies and services. In most cases, these two sides work in tandem, each filling gaps the other cannot. But this complementarity, all too often, fails to extend to supplies, where limited data visibility and multiple product flows can cause confusion. In Ghana, we are working to strike that better balance. We are helping the country’s two largest social marketing organizations upload their supply plans directly into the VAN, thereby making it easier for all sides to understand each other’s supply needs and to work together to meet them. We’re broadening the market landscape for medical abortion In a field currently dominated by health ministries and social marketers, engaging commercial distributors was never going to be easy. What was unexpected, however, was the discovery that distributors do not hold all the cards when it comes to broadening the market for medical abortion. Our work with partners in Zambia and Burkina Faso revealed the decisive role played by manufacturers in market entry; their main focus on long-term sustainability; and the desire of distributors ― those with feet on the ground―to eschew the spotlight. These lessons were applied in Zambia, where today, quality- assured medical abortion combi-packs are being marketed to 49 health facilities and pharmacies. We sounded the alarm, and countries responded COVID is shifting national priorities and nowhere has that been more evident than in the area of commodity procurement, with PPE (and now vaccines) topping the list. What many governments have failed to realize, however, is that the lead times for other supplies have lengthened exponentially. The urgency of early planning and procurement, therefore, is critical. Seeing that not one country had procured RH supplies throughout the entire year, ForoLAC alerted countries across the region. Within days, five health ministries had placed orders. We helped mobilize more than $12M in new orders, savings, and leveraged funds Despite downward pressure on global https://www.rhsupplies.org/activities-resources/groups/forolac/ markets for reproductive health supplies, this year we drove over $9.4 million in new procurement, which helped 13 countries maintain adequate contraceptive stock levels. In addition to that, the VAN’s newly- formed Consensus Planning Group saved $628,000, by cancelling a shipment that could otherwise have led to overstock and possible expiry. And last, but not least, we successfully leveraged nearly $3M in new initiatives and work scaled up by partners.
Looking for other reproductive health publications?
The Supplies Information Database (SID) is an online reference library with more than 2000 records on the status of reproductive health supplies. The library includes studies, assessments and other publications dating back to 1986, many of which are no longer available even in their country of origin. Explore the database here.