April 2008 in Review
In the spotlight
Dialogue on sustainability moves forward
Earlier this month, the Secretariat forwarded to the Executive Committee the results of a five-month consultancy to explore options for assuring the financial sustainability of the Coalition. Prepared by former GAVI executive, Bo Stenson, the consultancy report compared sustainability strategies across several other health partnerships, and addressed a host of critical issues such as maximizing the Coalition’s added value, the role of developing countries in Coalition decision-making, engagement with other global health partnerships, the uneven capacity of member organizations to contribute financially to the Coalition, and the strategic importance of non-earmarked funding.
On April 28, the Executive Committee met by teleconference to review the report and identify issues for further clarification during their meeting next month in Brussels. Their deliberations at that meeting will inform the contents of a presentation on financial sustainability to be delivered at the general Coalition membership meeting. They will also form the basis for more focused discussions during breakout sessions of the Working Groups (WGs). For more information, contact the Secretariat.
Coalition on the scene
May 19-23 set to be a week full of meetings
In the past month, many readers have written to the Secretariat asking for information about the many pre-meetings scheduled during the week of the Coalition membership meeting (May 19-23). As the scope of membership meetings has gradually expanded, the amount of time available for Working Group (WG) sessions has shrunk. At the same time, the breadth of activities covered by the WGs has been growing, so they began holding separate pre-meetings. And, just recently, additional activities have been added to the pre-meeting agenda precisely because the key players from the reproductive health (RH) supply world come together for this occasion. The result is that today, the membership meeting is the culmination of a week's worth of events, an overview of which can be found here and in an outline format on the table below. Contact the meeting organizer listed on the webpage for more information.
Delegates should have confirmed their attendance and booked their hotel rooms by now - contact PATH Programme Assistant, Cindy Rider, should you have any questions on this. Click here to see the latest draft of the agenda for the meeting and contact the Secretariat for any other details.
Nine new members come into the Coalition in April
Nine new members joined the Coalition in April, bringing the total number of members to 63. The new members are:
To apply for membership in the Coalition, click here.
Norway welcomes the Coalition
Earlier this month, Norwegian health advocates, legislators, and development specialists met in Oslo’s historic parliament, Stortinget, to discuss the many challenges confronting global efforts to improve sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). Hosted by Norway’s IPPF Member Association (NSRR) and the All-Party Parliamentary Network on SRHR, over 30 participants addressed issues such as women’s rights and gender equality, national priorities in development assistance, and programmatic obstacles towards meeting international health needs. Focusing on the theme of supply security, Coalition Director John Skibiak praised Norway’s long history of support for SRHR and its recent launch of the Global Campaign for the Health Millennium Development Goals. At the meeting and in subsequent discussions with the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), he welcomed greater involvement by Norwegian partners in the Coalition.
Coalition and France identify areas of mutual interest
This month saw the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs move one step closer to becoming the Coalition’s sixth bilateral member, and the second since the adoption of the Coalition’s new membership policy in October 2007. On April 14, Director John Skibiak and Coalition member Equilibres & Population met with representatives of the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, the Secretary of State for Cooperation and Francophonie, and the French Development Agency to discuss areas of mutual interest and identify next steps for ensuring France’s engagement with the Coalition and its partners. France, which will assume the Presidency of the Council of the European Union in July, has identified social health protection and financing as priority areas during its tenure.
UNFPA Global Advocacy meeting makes headway
UNFPA has a clear interest in, and is internationally mandated to facilitate the development of a jointly defined and jointly owned global advocacy strategy for universal access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services and supplies. In seeking to determine how best to go about developing this, UNFPA recruited the help of the Secretariat and convened Brussels-based representatives of the Secretariat, Countdown 2015 Europe, Project RMA, UNFPA Brussels, and the European Parliamentary Forum at the Secretariat on April 8.
Organized by Ben Light of UNFPA and facilitated by Coalition Director John Skibiak, participants agreed to move forward on the discussion of a global advocacy strategy and undertake, as a first step, a mapping exercise for gaps and connections. Terms of Reference for this exercise have already been drawn up to analyze a number of ongoing initiatives in the sphere of SRH advocacy. A provisional Steering Committee will be formed, consisting of the meeting participants and other key advocacy players. Contact the Secretariat for more information.
Highlights from the Working Groups
Systems Strengthening Working Group (SSWG)
Countries At Risk (CAR) Group: During April, two Countries at Risk (CAR) group teleconferences were held to bring the meetings into line with the regular data coming out of some of the countries covered by the USAID | DELIVER PROJECT. These teleconferences are rapidly evolving into “confirmatory action” and “monitoring” meetings, as many of the problems cited have already been addressed prior to the meeting. In this way, the meeting serves the useful purpose of noting various problems so that they can be resolved.
Another benefit of the CAR group has been to address problems of overstock of contraceptives in some countries by cancelling or postponing orders that were scheduled. In one case, USAID are even trying to effect a transfer of surplus IUDs in one country to another where they are in short supply. Other issues that were addressed are a shortage of one-month injectables (the manufacturers have received and accepted more orders than they can produce) but the countries affected did not want to try and bring in an alternative or boost stocks of three-month injectables, preferring to wait for their orders to be delivered. This situation does raise the issue again of single-source supply and the element of choice in the public sector. For more information on the CAR group, contact Technical Officer Steve Kinzett at the Secretariat.
Minimum Volume Guarantee/Pledge Guarantee (MVG/PG) mechanism: This month, work on the Minimum Volume/Pledge Guarantee (MVG/PG) took a quantum leap forward as Dalberg Consulting unveiled a host of new design elements to the Coalition’s Counterpart and Interim Advisory groups. The new elements included provisions for commercial credit as opposed to the original stand-alone "pledge fund", a return to the notion of two separate programme mechanisms, rather than the single "hybrid", and an organizational structure that identifies potential programme hosts. Next on the agenda for Dalberg will be field visits to assess both country needs and the feasibility of accessing these new mechanisms. Project Director Danielle Aares Boulle will present a detailed overview of Dalberg’s work at next month’s membership meeting. More information about the MVG/PG is available online here.
RH Commodity Security Resources on the Web: Compiled since 1985 from multiple sources, this database containing documents and links to resources related to commodity security at the country level is nearing completion. The resources will be accessible shortly through the Coalition website. In April, a number of testers provided valuable feedback on various bugs and potential improvement areas, which are being considered and incorporated in preparation for going live. Contact Jane Feinberg, Technical Advisor, RHInterchange, for more information.
Market Development Approaches Working Group (MDA WG)
The MDA WG met in teleconference this month to update progress on many of the workstreams in progress. In particular, staff from WG members PSP-One and Constella-Futures have met to discuss developing a market segmentation toolkit and indicators to measure the total market. Calls for market segmentation tools being used are to go out with the intention of being able to present an initial “landscaping” of the area during the May Coalition membership meeting. Contact WG leader, Ben Light, for more information on the MDA WG.
Resource Mobilization and Awareness Working Group (RMA WG)
Project RMA held its first RH supplies advocacy meeting, entitled "Linking civil society networks in knowledge and action", on April 24-25 in Kampala, Uganda. Civil society networks, Project RMA sub-grantees and partners, as well as representatives from UNFPA and other technical experts were invited to take part in this forum for action-oriented coordination. The participants of the meeting exchanged experiences from advocacy strategies undertaken in the area of RH supplies at the global, regional, and national levels and discussed how to develop linkages between them, so that efforts mutually reinforce each other.
Additional goals of the meeting included giving networks newer to the RH supplies issue insight into how to effectively address it within their membership; helping participants become aware of some of the strong linkages among advocacy efforts at the global, regional, and national levels and identify and support these linkages in their own advocacy strategies; introducing mechanisms for stakeholders to communicate and share ideas to sustain coordinated advocacy efforts. The meeting concluded with a short site visit, which allowed participants to suggest and discuss with Ugandan government officials specific advocacy activities to be undertaken in partnership to avoid condom stockouts in the country in 2008. This certainly was one of the highlights of the meeting. For more information, contact Mercedes Mas de Xaxas, Consultant for PAI.