January 2012 in Review
In the spotlight
Coalition members work to increase access to the female condom
DFID’s commitment to increase funding for female condom procurement is once again empowering Coalition members to explore new ways of increasing access to this important method. Under the umbrella of the Coalition, partners such as DFID, USAID, UNFPA, the Danish government, I+Solutions, and the UAFC Joint Programme have been meeting to identify those “win-win” opportunities where the interests of suppliers and buyers intersect, yielding not only lower prices, but higher volume sales, better forecasting, and/or enhanced market visibility. The discussions continue, but indications are that we are on the right track. This month, UNFPA announced that it had reached a new FC2 pricing agreement with the Female Health Company
—also a Coalition member—that would save them and AccessRH clients at least US$700,000 per year. Contact Campbell Bright
at AccessRH for more information.
Coalition on the scene
USAID announces acceptance of WHO-prequalified RH products for purchase
USAID recently announced that it will begin accepting WHO prequalified hormonal contraceptives—including oral contraceptives, implants, injectables, and emergency contraception—as eligible for USAID procurement and distribution to field programs. The decision supports USAID’s commitment to providing highly-effective contraceptives of assured quality and represents a step toward harmonizing quality requirements with multilateral and global partners.
Thanking Marieke Boot and the European Commission
This month, the European Commission’s tenure on the Coalition’s Executive Committee officially ended, drawing to a close more than half a decade of their active participation on our governing body. As the search gets underway to fill the seat they leave, we thank Marieke Boot, who—for nearly two years—represented the Commission with energy, candor, and dedication. In addition to serving on the Innovation Fund’s review committee, she was an outspoken advocate for country ownership and a tireless champion of commodity security and RH more broadly. We also thank the European Commission, which has for many years played such a critical role in the development and governance of the Coalition. As the Commission now transitions to its new role within the Coalition, we look forward to continued collaboration in the years to come.
Incorporating family planning into the new UN Commission on Commodities
On 20 January, 34 representatives from across the Coalition met at UNFPA headquarters in New York to begin framing the collection of information on family planning commodities for the soon-to-be-launched UN Commission on Commodities for Women and Children’s Health.
The group focused their attention on three commodities: female condoms, emergency contraception, and implants. These methods were chosen because they reflect the principles espoused by the Commission, and because the access issues they face are broadly representative of those faced by all contraceptives, particularly those outside mainstream donor and corporate priorities. The Coalition's Caucus on New and Underused RH Technologies directly influenced the selection of these three commodities.
At the all-day event, which was facilitated by Beth Frederick of Advance Family Planning, participants developed templates for the analysis of each commodity; identified data sources and gaps for the assessment; and assigned roles and responsibilities for data collection and write-up. Discussions are underway within the Coalition’s RMA WG to serve as a clearinghouse for information and updates on the UN Commission on Commodities. While minutes of the January 20 meeting have been posted on the Coalition’s website, those wishing more information on the Commission are encouraged to contact Kabir Ahmed at UNFPA.
Pledge Guarantee for Health showcased at Davos
A new online publication, Global Health and Diplomacy
, recently profiled the Pledge Guarantee for Health (PGH)
in its inaugural issue, which was launched this month at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The new publication offers a forum for communication among heads of state, health ministers, first ladies, civil-society leaders, the private sector, and global health experts. In an article entitled “More Efficient Family Planning through Innovative Finance,” UN Foundation’s CEO, Kathy Calvin, describes how the PGH allows donors and recipient countries to leverage a range of financial instruments to access higher quality and more effective contraception. Read the full article here
. For more information on the PGH, please contact Aron Betru
, PGH Director at the UN Foundation.
China to scale-up outputs of AQAS Study
Since 2009, the Innovation Fund (IF) has allowed the Coalition’s three Working Groups to launch a range of new initiatives—from advocacy and research to resource development. All of these initiatives, to some degree, seek to achieve a wider application of outputs: the adoption of new tools, changes in national policy, or simply the scaling-up of key findings. This month, the China Contraceptive Supply Administration announced that it has translated and intends to publish and widely disseminate two documents produced under the IF-funded AQAS (Accessing Quality Assured Supplies) Study: "Frequently asked questions on the prequalification of medicines for RH
" and "Medicines for RH: Ensuring access to quality assured products
." AQAS, which was carried out by the Concept Foundation, provided technical and strategic assistance to generic manufacturers with the potential to meet and maintain the standards required to achieve WHO prequalification.
Coalition adds social media to its toolkit
The Coalition has revamped its social media presence on Twitter, Facebook, and Wikipedia to offer the broader RH supplies community more avenues for sharing news and ideas. Having tested the waters in the lead-up to the Access for All conference
, the Coalition has now chosen to stay the course and engage social media on a permanent basis. Find us on Twitter under www.twitter.com/rh_supplies
and on our new Facebook page under www.facebook.com/rhsupplies
. And don’t forget to "follow" and "like" us as you navigate these channels to communicate with the Secretariat, other Coalition members, and the wider RH community. For questions or comments, please contact Florian Eisele
, Senior Communications Advisor to the Secretariat.
Coalition welcomes two new members in January
In January, the Coalition welcomed two new members—both from Nigeria—bringing total membership to 161. Learn more about them below:
- Advocacy Nigeria: established in 2005 as a movement to improve reproductive health and family planning services, the alliance includes representatives from federal and state government offices, NGOs, religious organizations, parliamentarians, academics, and health service providers.
- National Population Commission of Nigeria (NPC): established as part of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the National Population Commission Act of 1989, the Commission conducts censuses, coordinates all population activities in the country, and advises the President on population-related matters. With the arrival of the NPC, Nigeria becomes the 15th national government to join the Coalition and the 6th in Africa.
Highlights from the Working Groups
Systems Strengthening Working Group (SSWG)
SSWG welcomes Mimi Whitehouse as new Working Group Leader: With David Smith stepping down following his many years of stellar leadership, the Coalition welcomes Mimi Whitehouse as the new Leader of the Systems Strengthening Working Group. Mimi is a technical advisor with JSI on the USAID | DELIVER project and is based in Washington, DC. Mimi focuses on IT solutions for public health and has been instrumental in getting the RHInterchange to where it is today, including overseeing its recent transition to UNFPA's Procurement Services Branch. In a recent message to the SSWG, Mimi commented that she is eager to continue the open and candid discussions that have traditionally been the hallmark of SSWG collaborative efforts. Please join us in welcoming Mimi on board.
Coordinated Assistance for Reproductive Health Supplies (CARhs): In January, the CARhs provided information and assistance to improve RH supply chain management in response to seven requests from four countries. Highlights include:
- In Togo, USAID and UNFPA jointly responded to shortages of four commodities by agreeing to assume responsibility for delivering whichever of the four they could get in country first. Commodities included Depo-Provera, Jadelle, Microgynon, and male condoms.
- In Mauritania, UNFPA donated quantities of both Jadelle and Implanon to assist the Ministry of Health in evaluating the service delivery implications and acceptability of each method.
- In Liberia, UNFPA and USAID coordinated efforts to avert a shortage of Jadelle by delivering two shipments of the method.
Contact Joe Abraham for more information.
AccessRH/RHI webinars and market survey results: This month, UNFPA conducted webinar trainings on AccessRH for its country-, regional-, and headquarters-staff, as well as for other interested partners outside the organization. The trainings, which were conducted in English and Spanish, familiarized participants with the new web portal myAccessRH.org. They focused on the RHInterchange online catalog, lead times, and quality assurance policies. The results of a recently completed AccessRH marketing survey ranked regular order communications, supply chain visibility, and timely deliveries as the highest priorities among RH commodity stakeholders. A French version of the training is currently under development. For more information, please contact Karina Donnelly at UNFPA.
Resource Mobilization and Awareness Working Group (RMA WG)Advocacy small grants to RMA WG members:
The Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana and Marie Stopes Tanzania have each received small grants that will enable them to undertake advocacy efforts for RH supplies. The grants were awarded by PAI on behalf of the Advance Family Planning project, which has made funds available for Southern members of the RMA WG to further the objectives of the WG workplan.