February 2011 in Review
In the spotlight
Ethiopia joins the Coalition with a view towards better pricing for commodities
On 2 February, Ethiopia’s Federal Ministry of Health became the tenth national government and third African country to join the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition. In a signing ceremony held in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, State Minister Kebede Worku said the Ministry looked forward to co-hosting this year’s annual meeting of Coalition partners and expressed his hopes that membership in the Coalition would open the door toward meaningful price negotiations between manufacturers and procurers, which he felt were a prerequisite to sustainable RH programmes. Coverage of the ceremony, which was attended by representatives of the Coalition, UNFPA, and the Ministry, found its way onto television and the front page of the national newspaper, the Ethiopian Herald.
Update on June meetings
In preparation for the June meetings, the Secretariat has launched a new web page where participants can access the latest information, register for the event, and book hotel rooms. Please note the following:
For the most up-to-date information on every aspect of the week’s events, please consult the meeting web page, now available through the Coalition’s website. For further information regarding meeting logistics, contact Francis Fix at the Secretariat.
Coalition on the scene
Pledge Guarantee officially launches its first deal
This month, the UN Foundation announced the first deal under the Pledge Guarantee for Health (PGH), an innovative financing mechanism that allows recipients of international donor assistance to turn unrealized aid commitments into short-term, low-cost commercial credit. The deal, which was formally concluded in November of last year, enabled the Zambian government to secure $4.8 million, which it then used to purchase bed nets before the peak rainy season. This deal—which also involved the World Bank, UNICEF, and Stanbic Bank Zambia—is estimated to have averted up to 100,000 cases of malaria and to have saved about $250,000 in treatment costs and lost productivity.
In connection with the announcement, the UN Foundation hosted a panel discussion in Washington, DC, where leaders from across the global health community discussed opportunities for innovative, private-sector-led partnerships to address today’s challenging funding landscape. To read a press release on the panel discussion, click here. More on the PGH can be found here.
AccessRH fulfils its first order
The innovative procurement mechanism, AccessRH, also announced its first order this month: a shipment of 1.44 million condoms to Mongolia. The order, which is scheduled to arrive in Ulaanbaatar in early March, represents a dramatic time savings over the usual three-month timeframe normally required for production and testing.
Developed under the auspices of the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition, AccessRH is an innovative procurement mechanism that allows clients to order high-quality products at favourable prices with significantly reduced lead times. The Procurement Services Branch of UNFPA, which oversees the programme, manages an inventory of standard RH products (currently limited to condoms, but soon expected to grow), which it ships either from stock held on its behalf by prequalified suppliers or directly from a supplier’s production line. To learn more about AccessRH, contact Karina Donnelly.
Commodity security highlighted as Francophone West Africa renews commitment to family planning
From 8–11 February, nine country delegations from across francophone West Africa convened in Ouagadougou where they committed themselves to addressing the issues of population, development, and family planning. Hosted by USAID, the French Government, and the Hewlett and Packard Foundations, the three-day event encompassed a broad range of population related issues—including RH commodity security. A panel on the subject of commodity security was moderated by Coalition Director, John Skibiak, and included presentations by Coalition members Dr. Meba Kagone (USAID|DELIVER), Dr. Andre Savadogo (Bioforce), and M. Felicien Nezzi (WAHO). The event concluded with an eight-point declaration that included a call for governments to increase contributions to RH supplies steadily over time. The Secretariat, together with partners Equilibres & Populations and Bioforce, has begun efforts to forge a new regional network on commodity security, similar to the LAC Forum. For more information on the conference, contact John Skibiak.
Maternal health supplies advocacy
The Maternal Health Task Force continues to build upon its commitment to increase access to MH supplies and has renewed support to Population Action International to continue generating advocacy and action on this critical issue through August 2011. In the coming months, stakeholders will develop key recommendations to help ensure adequate access to MH supplies and formulate strategies to ensure their implementation. The recommendations will identify advocacy opportunities for securing policy change, and increasing political and financial support for improving maternal health and reducing maternal mortality. These draft recommendations will be shared at the upcoming June 2011 membership meeting in Addis Ababa. If you are interested in becoming involved in this effort, please contact Jessica Bernstein.
Coalition welcomes its newest members
In addition to Ethiopia’s Ministry of Health, the Coalition welcomed two new members this month, bringing its total membership to 132:
Highlights from the Working Groups
Systems Strengthening Working Group (SSWG)
Coordinated Assistance for Reproductive Health Supplies (CARhs): This month, the CARhs provided upcoming shipment information in response to seven requests from four countries. The CARhs took the following actions:
Contact Kevin Pilz for more information.
Market Development Approaches Working Group (MDA WG)
Total Market Initiative meeting: A sub-group of MDA WG members met via teleconference on 1 February to brainstorm ideas for moving forward the Total Market Initiative (TMI). Focusing on the access and equity components of a TMI, members explored opportunities for carrying forward work in Honduras and Madagascar, including the possibility of producing a short guide for implementing a TMI. For more information on this sub-group, please contact Ben Light or Steve Kinzett.
For more details on the above and other events, see the events calendar on the Coalition website.