July 2008 in Review
In the spotlight
Advocacy toolkit and guide now on Coalition website

Hot on the heels of the Supplies Information Database (SID), the new Advocacy Toolkit and Guide has gone live on the Coalition's website. Entitled "Leading Voices in Securing Reproductive Health Supplies," the toolkit is a practical, evidence-based instrument designed to raise awareness and foster policy change for increased commitment to reproductive health (RH) supplies. The toolkit draws upon successful advocacy initiatives and lessons learned in contraceptive security. It provides an essential guide to advocacy communications and messages, a range of five global supply shortage scenarios adaptable to a country’s own needs, and a set of tools, including policy briefs, PowerPoint presentations, and advocacy planning guides. The toolkit is the product of intense work by the Resource Mobilization and Awareness Working Group (RMA WG), and especially by colleagues from USAID's Health Policy Initiative. It can be accessed via the Coalition website’s homepage, as well as through the website's new Resources section. Contact DSW's Communications Coordinator, Caroline Kent, for more information.

On July 9, members of the RMA WG met by teleconference to discuss the next steps for the toolkit. The group agreed to distribute the toolkit by CD ROM to interested RMA WG members; develop a timeline for translating it into French and Spanish and search out funds for doing so; identify appropriate venues where the toolkit can be introduced; and design a feedback form for continuously improving the tool. Contact Carmen Coles of USAID for more information on this RMA WG workstream.

Coalition on the scene
Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the East African Community join the Coalition

This month, the Secretariat welcomed two new members to the Coalition - the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark and the East African Community (EAC). This brings the total number of members in the Coalition to 70.

Denmark: Denmark is the sixth bilateral agency to join the Coalition. Danish bilateral funding for sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) has increased from $30.5 million in 2006 to $33.4 million in 2007, and Danish funding for HIV/ AIDS is planned to double from $100 million in 2006 to $200 million in 2010. Danish bilateral aid targets a total of 16 programme countries, and in 2007 the number of Health Sector programmes (which include SRHR issues) in the programme countries increased from 5 to 6. In addition, the Danish government has granted $3 million to the World Population Foundation's female condom initiative.

EAC: The EAC is the regional intergovernmental organization of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, and Rwanda. Headquartered in Arusha, Tanzania, the EAC seeks to strengthen cooperation among its partner states in the political, economic, and social fields (including health sector integration). Partner states aim to promote better management of health delivery and planning mechanisms so as to enhance the efficiency of healthcare services; harmonize national health policies and regulations; and promote the exchange of information on health issues.

To apply for membership in the Coalition, click here.

MVG/PG moves a giant step closer to reality
This month, work on the Minimum Volume and Pledge Guarantee mechanisms (MVG/PG) took a major leap forward as Dahlberg Consulting completed its mandate to develop the technical design of the two innovating financing/procurement mechanisms. The impressive results of this work have been documented in a 47-page report, which will soon be posted on the Coalition website. In it, the authors review the development of the MVG/PG, highlight many of the key advances made over earlier design proposals, and document the benefits, both financial and programmatic, to result from implementation of the mechanisms.
Meanwhile, on July 23, 15 partners and members of the MVG/PG advisory group met by teleconference to kick off Phase II of the project, which will see the financing mechanisms move from concept to reality. By the end of the year, Dahlberg expects to have identified managing organizations of the two mechanisms; strengthened their organizational capacity; assisted them in starting up implementation; initiated country outreach and test marketing; and engaged key donors and supporters in the RH community. For more information, contact MVG/PG Advisory Group Coordinator, John Skibiak
Making the Case project seeks Coalition support

The Bill and Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health, Johns Hopkins University, is asking Coalition members to complete a five-minute questionnaire. This will be used to help develop a case for increased funding for USAID's family planning programme. The questionnaire, which can be accessed here, should be completed by August 15.

This project, called "Making the Case," will produce five thematic briefs and an evidence-based report that documents how increased US funds for international family planning assistance can be effectively used, and estimates the impact of such investment on a variety of development outcomes. For detailed information, please click here.

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

Preparations are underway for an SSWG meeting to be held at the Secretariat in Brussels on October 1-2. Items for discussion include the RHInterchange (RHI), MVG/PG including linkages with RMA WG, the West Africa Initiative, prequalification, procurement forecasting, the Countries at Risk (CAR) group, the Supply Chain Management (SCM) Software Tools Review, SID, the access to medicines project, the professionalism of logisticians initiative, the private sector's role in supply chains, quality assurance, and linkages with other initiatives. Further details can be obtained from WG Chair David Smith of UNFPA or Steve Kinzett of the Secretariat.

CAR: The CAR group continued improving the mechanisms it utilizes for the efficient sharing of shipment information and resolution of stock issues. The CAR now works from an ‘interactive’ agenda, which allows donors to receive and respond to requests for information or shipment modifications through a spreadsheet. Responses are then shared directly with country programme managers to assist their management of incoming stock. CAR teleconferences focus on issues requiring discussion and coordination amongst the various stakeholders, and two of these took place this month on July 2 and July 30.

As a result of CAR action in July, shipment information was provided to country programmes in eight countries. Shipments to Ghana and Zambia were expedited to preclude stockouts of the central warehouse, and shipments to several other countries were postponed or cancelled to prevent an overstock of supplies. The CAR group has been providing information and considering emergency shipments to Bangladesh to prevent a stockout of implants, where the government must quickly replace dwindling supplies of NORPLANT with a new implant. A number of contraceptive methods in Kenya, meanwhile, appear to have very limited stocks. All organizations in the CAR have been engaging their local staff in Kenya to advocate for re-initiation of the monthly logistics working group meetings to clarify commodity needs and improve monitoring and forecasting for supplies. For more information, contact Kevin Pilz, Commodity Security and Logistics Adviser, USAID.

RHI: In July, the RHI team launched a number of new reports on the RHI website that should make it easier to search for information. Users can now search multiple countries at one time (Geographic Summary report), view information for multiple years with annual totals (Value Summary and Quantity Summary reports), and download information to Excel (Export to Excel feature). In recent weeks, new users from Bangladesh, Syria, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Laos, and Uganda have registered to view detailed shipment information for planning, coordination, and other purposes. To obtain a user ID and password, please click here.

Thanks to the Institute for Reproductive Health and Cycle Technologies, the RHI now includes data on shipments of CycleBeads since 2004. Stay tuned for upcoming improvements to the RHI, including graphing capability for the Value Summary report, and Spanish and French versions of the site. Contact Jane Feinberg for further information.

SCM software tools review: The SCM Software Tools Review guide is in the final stages of being edited and will be available shortly. Contact Alan Bornbusch of USAID for more information.

Market Development Approaches Working Group (MDA WG)

On July 1-2, selected members of the MDA WG met in Washington DC to develop a Total Market Initiative (TMI) that can be implemented in one or more countries. During the meeting, participants drew up a shortlist of 11 countries that could serve as potential candidates for the pilot testing of the TMI. The selection of one or more countries will be based on a brief write-up by nominated country champions and these will be presented to the Executive Committee for endorsement. A report of the two-day meeting will be available shortly on the MDA WG pages of the website. Further details are available from WG Leader, Ben Light.

Resource Mobilization and Awareness Working Group (RMA WG)

In accordance with the October 2007 membership and governance guidelines, the RMA WG has begun the process of identifying a new WG leader for a two-year rotating leadership. Having served as the Chair of the RMA WG since the start of the Coalition in 2004, PAI has gained WG support for an election process to secure new leadership. Contact Jess Bernstein and Mercedes Mas de Xaxas for more information.

Project RMA update: Ugandan Members of Parliament (MPs) expressed their commitment to reducing RH supply problems at a recent meeting organized by Reproductive Health Uganda (RHU) for Project RMA. The meeting sought to convene civil society around advocacy for increased financial and political commitment for RH supplies. The meeting was attended by a wide range of stakeholders including: National Association of Women Ministers and Parliamentarians, Population Secretariat, Uganda Media Women’s Association, Uganda Health Consumers and Users Organization, HEPS Uganda, Uganda Health Marketing Group, DSW Uganda, Uganda Women Medical Doctors’ Association, and representatives from the media.

Two days of passionate debate and brainstorming resulted in commitments to increase high-level advocacy for the creation of a budget line for condom programming; increase engagement with Contraceptive Security Mechanisms; increase stakeholder participation in the National Essential Drug List review process; and work closely with donors to address coordination problems. A follow-up meeting is scheduled for September. RHU will continue working with existing and new strategic partners such as the Ugandan Debt Network and EngenderHealth. Contact Sarah Shaw of IPPF for more information.

Upcoming Events

27 August CAR group teleconference; 10.00 (EST); 16.00 (CET)
4 September MDA WG teleconference; 08.00 (PST); 11.00 (EST); 16.00 (BST); 17.00 (CET)
1 October Annual Strategy meeting of Countdown 2015 Europe; Lyon, France
1-2 October
Autumn meeting of SSWG and RHI Management Team; Coalition Secretariat, Brussels, Belgium; 09.00-17.00 (CET)
2-3 October EuroNGOs conference and General Meeting 2008; Lyon, France
15-16 October 7th International Dialogue on Population and Sustainable Development; Berlin, Germany
10 November Executive Committee meeting; UNFPA Headquarters, New York, USA
16-17 November European Development Days; Strasbourg, France