December 2008 in Review
In the spotlight
Holiday Happenings

Despite the holiday season, Secretariat staff and Coalition partners remained busy, hosting meetings and teleconferences, finalizing documents, developing proposals, and allocating funds for 2009. Members of the MDA Working group, for example, pushed ahead with plans to develop two proposals for submission to the Innovation Fund, while similar rumblings were heard from within the Systems Strengthening Working Group.

In December, consultant Mary Jo Lazear travelled to Brussels, where she visited the Secretariat and other Coalition Partners to wrap up the Global Advocacy Mapping exercise. Though timing conflicts forced a cancellation of the meeting originally scheduled for December 10, sponsors of the mapping exercise from within the RMA Working Group did meet by teleconference to review Mary Jo’s scope of work, agree on a timetable for completion of the report, and identify the process for reviewing the initial draft. 

December also saw the Secretariat finalize revisions to its concept paper for financing during the period 2009-2015.  The paper, which builds on the findings of earlier studies by Bo Stenson and Nel Druce, as well as the recommendations of November’s Executive Committee meeting, was reviewed by PATH and submitted to members of the Executive Committee in early January. 

Coalition on the scene
Update on AccessRH and Pledge Guarantee for Health

This month, scheduling conflicts prevented members of the AccessRH and Pledge Guarantee for Health (PG) Advisory Group from following through with their teleconference, originally planned for December 8. Instead, Vicky Obst of Dalberg Consulting distributed a memo to group members, highlighting accomplishments and developments. 

In the case of the PG, she noted that the United Nations Foundation (UNF) expected to initiate activities in January, including work on bank selection, engaging guarantor(s), and assessing potential structures and customers. Preliminary discussions are underway with potential partner banks, including Standard Bank, Citibank, and Ecobank, as well as with potential candidates for the role of PG guarantor.

In the case of AccessRH (formerly Minimum Volume Guarantee), UNFPA/Copenhagen continues to recruit new staff and operationalize its implementation plan. Representatives of UNFPA and JSI met in Copenhagen in December to draft a funding proposal aimed, at least initially, towards European donors. The representatives also discussed implications of transitioning the RHInterchange to UNFPA/Copenhagen and the benefits that will likely result from a seamless integration of the RHI with the information system developed for AccessRH.

UNFPA develops survey on Comprehensive Condom Programming

In January, over 70 development partners, including selected Coalition members, will be asked to participate in an online mini-survey, designed to gauge the level of condom programming support currently being provided by international organizations to low to middle income countries. The strategic approach, called Comprehensive Condom Programming (CCP), aims to make male and female condoms accessible to every sexually active person at risk of HIV when and where needed, and to ensure they possess the knowledge to use them correctly and consistently.

The CCP approach involves an integrated mix of leadership, coordination, demand, and supply. Specifically, the survey hopes to map out which agencies are providing which kinds of CCP support in which countries.

The survey will be carried out by the Advocacy and Resource Mobilization (ARM) Working Group of the UNAIDS Interagency Task Team on CCP, which is led by UNFPA. The ARM Working Group expects that the survey will highlight significant gaps in support to CCP, thereby stimulating stronger political commitment and expanded human, financial, and technical resources.

In developing the sampling framework, the Secretariat forwarded to UNFPA the names of Coalition members indicating an interest in condom provision and/or involvement in CCP. To ensure your institution has not been overlooked, or to get more information on CCP, please contact Bidia Deperthes, UNFPA Technical Officer in charge of CCP, or Patrick Friel, UNFPA Consultant.

Secretariat welcomes Gloria Castany

The Secretariat extends a hearty welcome to Gloria Castany, who was hired in December as its new Program Assistant. Gloria will assume many of the administrative responsibilities previously held by Guillaume Jaskula, as both he and Bonnie Keith devote more of their time to filling in for Communications Officer, Catherine Potter, who is currently on maternity leave. Gloria comes to the Secretariat from Sandblast Arts, a UK-based NGO dedicated to promoting the cause of Saharawi refugees in Algeria. A translator by training, Gloria is fluent in Spanish, French, and English. She also holds an MA in International Politics from the Free University of Brussels. Gloria can be contacted at

Highlights from the Working Groups
Systems Strengthening Working Group (SSWG)

Draft Assessment of the CAR now available for review: Kevin Pilz of USAID just completed a draft assessment report of the Countries at Risk (CAR) group. This assessment reviews the CAR’s actions since the last progress report (October 2006-September 2007), using indicators adopted by CAR members in early 2006. The report summarizes the CAR’s activities and accomplishments, and offers observations on issues that have come to the CAR’s attention and merit broader attention by the Coalition. The report is currently being circulated for comments and will be available on the SSWG webpage once it is finalized.

RH Interchange news: The RHInterchange is now available in English, French, and Spanish. Moreover, the Ministry of Health & Population in Nepal is now the first government to share its procurements with the RHI.

Market Development Approaches Working Group (MDA WG)

MDA focuses attention on Demand and Market Development Indicators: This month, the MDA WG posted two new workstream documents on its web page, a Thoughtpiece on Demand and the Market Development Indicators. Both workstreams have long figured prominently within the MDA WG's workplan, but had previously remained more at the level of general discussion and debate. These papers, assembled by Ben Light with input from Reed Ramlow (AED), Francoise Armand, Jeff Barnes, and Gail O’Sullivan (all of Abt Associates), refine the thinking behind each theme in an effort to generate consensus and breathe new life into them. WG members and other interested persons are invited to review the draft papers and send comments to WG Leader Ben Light or Steve Kinzett.

Resource Mobilization and Awareness Working Group (RMA WG)

Advocacy Toolkit Update: Following the positive feedback from recent advocacy trainings in Thailand, Zimbabwe, and other locations, members of the RMA WG are exploring ways to expand the Toolkit’s reach and utility to the broadest possible audience. To make it easier to tailor the Toolkit to the needs of specific audiences, DSW and USAID | HPI have agreed to mock-up a revised Toolkit website, which should be available for review and comment in February. 

The RMA WG is also exploring the possibility of implementing a survey to gauge the level and depth of advocacy experience among WG and other interested Coalition members. Questions are now being developed for review, and responses will be used to determine the best date for an HPI-sponsored Training of Trainers advocacy session.

Project RMA posts two new reports: Project RMA just posted two new reports on the Coalition website. The first report was published by ASTRA, which is one of seven recipients of Project RMA’s first round of small grants in support of supply advocacy. The report, entitled Report on Reproductive Health Supplies in ASTRA Countries, examines sexual and reproductive health services and supplies in Central and Eastern Europe.

The second document is the meeting report from the “Global Policy Frameworks: Turning Commitment into Access for RH Supplies” workshop, which was held in November in Accra, Ghana. Both reports are available on the Project RMA page of the Coalition’s website.


Upcoming Events

7 Jan CAR Teleconference
8 Jan MDA Teleconference
15 Jan Deadline for Innovation Fund applications
27-29 Jan West African RH Network Conference, Accra
28 Jan CAR Teleconference
5 Feb MDA Teleconference
9 or 10 Feb RMA Teleconference (contact Sandra Jordan for more information)
25 Feb CAR Teleconference

For more details on the above and other events, see the events calendar on the Coalition website.

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