April 2009 in Review
In the spotlight
Stop The Stock-outs!
Stop The Stock-outs is the name of an ambitious new campaign aimed at getting African governments to ensure the availability of essential medicines by increasing and specifying national budgetary allocations for medicines, and by ensuring greater efficiency and transparency in procurement and distribution. The brainchild of new Coalition member Health Action International Africa (HAI Africa), Oxfam, the Open Society Institute and 12 civil society partners, Stop The Stock-outs is now underway in Kenya, Malawi, Madagascar, Uganda, and Zambia. In the words of the campaign's organizers, "The failure to properly stock public health clinics and pharmacies with essential medicines stems in part from economic constraints and bureaucratic obstacles. But above all, it is a failure of political will. If governments commit to having medicines on pharmacy shelves, they can do it."
As Coalition members continue to advocate for the inclusion of RH supplies on national essential medicine lists, we look forward to working with our new colleagues at Stop The Stock-outs. For information on the campaign, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their new website.
Coalition on the scene
Tenth Membership Meeting details
Book your hotel. Members wishing to attend the London Membership Meeting are encouraged to book their accommodations at City Inn Westminster as soon as possible to ensure access to the preferential rates of £145 (standard single) and £155 (standard double), including breakfast. To receive our promotional rate, bookings must be made directly with the hotel, using the promotional code NEGRH5. Please view the meeting webpage for more information.
Meeting calendar. Venues and times are now available on the meeting webpage. Please check back frequently for the most up-to-date information to plan your trip.
Uganda becomes first African government to join Coalition
This month, the Government of Uganda, represented by its Ministry of Health (MOH), became the first African government to join the Coalition. The MOH seeks to address the country’s RH health needs by integrating population and demographic factors at all planning levels, promoting positive health-seeking behaviour, and reducing the unmet need for family planning. This year, the MOH completed its Strategic Plan to achieve RH commodity security, building on the results of an initial national needs assessment.
Secretariat launches new GoogleGroups addresses
To facilitate Working Group correspondence, the Secretariat has created three new GoogleGroups listserves. The new addresses make it easier to keep group contacts up to date and eliminate the need for members to search endlessly for the most recent group-wide correspondence. If you are a regular Working Group member and have not yet received a GoogleGroups invitation or a notification of your membership on any listserve, please contact Gloria Castany at the Secretariat.
The Donor Gap: now updated and online
In 2001, the Interim Working Group on Reproductive Health Commodity Security, a forerunner of today’s Coalition, published what would arguably become one of the most effective tools for galvanizing international support on behalf of reproductive health commodity security. The report, Contraceptive Projections and the Donor Gap, envisioned increasing shortfalls in the availability of donor resources required to satisfy the growing unmet need for contraceptive supplies. Eight years on, funding from USAID | DELIVER has enabled the Coalition to update the report and reposition it as an effective advocacy tool in the years to come. The report, now available online, offers a frank and fascinating portrayal of both past successes and the many challenges ahead.
Highlights from the Working Groups
Systems Strengthening Working Group (SSWG)
RHInterchange: This month, the Uganda Ministry of Health began submitting data on all contraceptives purchased since 2006 with Government of Uganda funds. The Institute for Reproductive Health (IRH) and the Nepal Ministry of Health and Population have updated their information. And finally, UNFPA has revised its figures from 2004 onwards to reflect actual, rather than average, total landed cost of orders.
Countries at Risk (CAR): The CAR continues to coordinate global donor responses to emergency stock issues and information requests. During this month’s teleconference, UNFPA advised CAR members that it had Depo-Provera, female condoms, and Microgynon on hand to avert anticipated stockouts in Kenya. Meanwhile, members also learned of pending stocks-outs of Depo and Microval in Tanzania. Although World Bank funds should become available following the completion of an external audit of the country’s basket fund, this could take some time, so CAR members are exploring interim responses. Finally, in Uganda, a shortfall of Microgynon should soon be relieved as UNFPA’s shipment arrives on May 20.
In Asia, Bangladesh remains without implants. UNFPA has, however, allocated US$500,000 for additional stocks; once it receives the green light from the Directorate General of Family Planning, 26,500 units of Implanon can be in country within two to four weeks. Finally, UNFPA reports that shipments of the emergency contraceptive Postinor should be in Paraguay by mid-June. At the same time, concerns were expressed over possible leaks of this product into the private sector. For more information contact Kevin Pilz.
Resource Mobilization and Awareness Working Group (RMA WG)
Project RMA: Project RMA was heavily involved in successful advocacy efforts at the 42nd Session of the United Nations Commission on Population and Development (CPD), resulting in RH supplies being featured multiple times in the final resolution. When Project RMA partners learned that the initial draft would not refer to RH supplies, they suggested language to key contacts, which was then included in the initial draft sent to governments. Project RMA also submitted an oral statement focusing on RH supplies, with partners and subgrantees signing on in support. These successes lead to new advocacy entry points for RH supplies advocates. Though the final resolution is nonbinding, advocates can use this governmental commitment to advocate for increased access to RH supplies.
Advocacy in action in Tanzania: This month Tanzania’s 2008/09 budget allocation for family planning was finally released, thanks in no small part to the advocacy efforts of UMATI, Tanzania’s IPPF Member Association. As the country’s financial year was entering its final quarter with no imminent sign of movement by the Ministry of Finance, UMATI briefed a local media group, the Editors Forum, which in turn raised the issue with the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance. Within a week, the funds were released.
For more details on the above and other events, see the events calendar on the Coalition website.
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