January 2010 in Review
In the spotlight
Pledge Guarantee for Health poised for action
The Pledge Guarantee for Health (PGH) is a financing facility, managed by the UN Foundation, that converts bankable donor pledges into low-cost, short-term commercial credit for the immediate procurement of health supplies. Recipient-driven, responsive to demand, and requiring few, if any, policy or operational changes, PGH is quickly gaining traction within the RH community. Health and finance ministries see the PGH as helping them manage both procurement and financing; donors see it as a way to incentivize high-performing grant recipients, manage overall risk, and ultimately generate cost savings.
The PGH team, now led by interim Director Luca Tortorelli, is creating term-sheets, developing risk models, and fielding multiple requests to access the mechanism. At the same time, it is strengthening relationships with commercial banks, the donor community, guarantors, and aid recipients. The first PGH deals and partners will be showcased at next month’s Marketplace on Innovative Financial Solutions for Development which will be held in Paris 4-5 March.
For recipients of donor-backed grants involving commodities (US$250,000-5,000,000 range) who wish to procure in advance of the actual grant award, the PGH may be the right solution. For more information, contact Kevin Starace, Senior Advisor at the UN Foundation.
Coalition on the scene
Mark your calendars, book your rooms…
As the first African government to join the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition, Uganda will host the first membership meeting to be held outside of Europe or North America. The meeting will take place at the Kampala Sheraton 27–28 May. The Executive Committee will meet on the 26th at the UNFPA/Uganda offices. The selection of venues follows a one-week visit to Kampala by Coalition Director John Skibiak. During his trip, John met with the Minister of Health, the Commissioner of Health Services/Community Health, and over 30 stakeholders, including representatives of more than 15 Coalition member organizations with offices in Kampala. At least six members have generously offered to host preliminary meetings of the Coalition’s Working Groups and Caucus.
The Secretariat has reserved two blocks of rooms: one at the Sheraton and the other at the Imperial Royale Hotel, which is located just a few minutes away by foot. The availability of rooms is limited, so participants are encouraged to book as early as possible. For booking details and the most up-to-date information on every aspect of the week’s events, please consult the meeting webpage, now available on the Coalition’s website. For further information, contact Francis Fix at the Secretariat.
E&P and Tides Foundation to increase resource base for supplies
Coalition member Equilibres & Populations (E&P) has been awarded a grant from the Tides Foundation, aimed at expanding the resource base for reproductive health (RH) supplies, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. The three-year effort will work to ensure that UNITAID, the international drug purchase facility, and the Millennium Foundation increase funding for prevention issues in the fields of sexual and reproductive health and rights, and HIV/AIDS. E&P will rely on technical support from the Secretariat, Coalition members, and Countdown 2015 Europe partners to advocate for increased financial commitments for RH supplies, and to expand use of the new financing and procurement mechanisms, AccessRH and the PGH. Their advocacy will also involve the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the French Development Agency. For more information on the new initiative, please contact Serge Rabier, Executive Director of E&P.
ACPD helps shape this year's G8 agenda
This month, Coalition member Action Canada on Population and Development (ACPD) announced the decision by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to make maternal and child health the development focus for the G8. This decision follows months of advocacy by ACPD to get maternal mortality and reproductive health supplies on the G8 agenda—work funded in large part by a grant to ACPD by the Coalition’s Innovation Fund.
Following the Prime Minister’s announcement, the Canadian Coalition on Maternal Newborn and Child Health was invited to meet with CIDA's Minister of International Development. ACPD, as a member of that group, emphasized the need for comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services, including family planning. Coverage of Mr. Harper’s decision and its significance was reported in an editorial in Canada’s national newspaper, the Globe and Mail. For more information, contact Katherine McDonald, Executive Director of ACPD.
The Coalition comes to Kenya
As part of the Coalition’s effort to actively engage stakeholders at country-level, Senior Technical Officer Steve Kinzett attended this month’s meeting of Kenya’s Family Planning Technical Working Group. The group discussed plans to requantify contraceptive needs following the release of preliminary results from the 2008 Kenya DHS. Contraceptive procurement is now underway, with UNFPA pledging an additional US$3 million to fill any remaining gaps. Also in attendance was Coalition member PATH, who discussed the depo-subQ provera 104™ in the Uniject® device product, and FHI, who spoke of expanding method choice through the introduction of the Standard Days Method. Steve discussed the work of the Coalition and distributed the new organizational factsheet, which is now available online for downloading in English, Spanish, and French.
Coalition’s newest members
The Coalition welcomed two new members in January, bringing our total membership to 103.
Highlights from the Working Groups
Systems Strengthening Working Group (SSWG)
RHInterchange in transition: This month, RHI management began transitioning operations to UNFPA. The transition will occur over the course of this year and is being led by RHI manager Mimi Whitehouse, now based at UNFPA/Copenhagen. Since arriving in Denmark, Mimi has introduced the RHI to new UNFPA staff and begun planning for information technology solutions to meet the needs of AccessRH and RHI users and operators. For more information, please contact Mimi Whitehouse.
CAR Update: In January, the CAR group had two teleconferences providing shipment and stock updates for eight countries and addressed challenges in the following:
Contact Kevin Pilz for more information.
Resource Mobilization and Awareness Working Group (RMA WG)
Project RMA awards final grants: This month, Project RMA announced the recipients of its third and final round of small grants. Recipients include the Youth Coalition, the Eastern African Reproductive Health Network (EARHN), the Central and Eastern European Women’s Network for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (ASTRA), the Asia Pacific Alliance (APA), Marie Stopes International (MSI), and the Latin American and Caribbean Women’s Health Network (LACWHN). From supporting youth advocacy for supplies within national budgeting processes to building an advocacy agenda for supplies in the LAC region, these grants build on three years of work by Project RMA to increase access to RH supplies through advocacy, research, and training. To learn more about the 2010 grants, please contact Jessica Bernstein or Mercedes Mas de Xaxas.
AHEAD trainings a success: DSW, in partnership with E&P, has conducted the last of four regional capacity-building workshops, aimed at increasing the capacity of civil-society organizations to advocate effectively for greater national support for reproductive health in the new aid architecture. Sponsored by the AHEAD Project, each workshop has resulted in country-based advocacy action plans to be implemented from 2010 onwards. The January workshop, which was held in Ouagadougou, involved participants from Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal, and Niger.
The workshop also provided a venue to introduce participants to the work of the Coalition and to the new French-language version of the Advocacy Guide and Toolkit. For more information on the AHEAD Project, contact Sabine Weber at DSW.
Latin American Advisory Group
On 22 January, members of the Latin American Advisory Group discussed opportunities for increasing awareness of the Coalition within the region. A number of strategies were proposed that seek to maximize impact while at the same time minimize resource demands on Secretariat staff. One strategy called for the translation into Spanish of the Coalition’s monthly newsletter, SupplyInsider. Another called for the targeted dissemination of information to a select group of countries. These could include the Coalition’s current LAC focus countries and/or one or two others from South America. The issue of Coalition engagement with the region will be pursued at next month’s Regional Meeting to Enhance RH Commodity Security, to be hosted in Panama by UNFPA. For more information about the Coalition's Latin American Advisory Group, contact Gloria Castany at the Secretariat.
For more details on the above and other events, see the events calendar on the Coalition website.