June 2011 in Review
More than 350 participants from 56 countries gathered this month in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, to raise the international profile of reproductive health commodity security (RHCS). Under the banner of Access for All, participants marked the 10th anniversary of an earlier conference, Meeting the Challenge, which many credit as having launched today's RHCS movement. Throughout the week beginning 20 June, participants took stock of the notable advances made in achieving global commodity security, while drawing from that experience the tools and strategies needed to more effectively confront the many challenges that lay ahead.
The conference saw the announcement of new commitments to the Coalition's HANDtoHAND Campaign. US pharmaceutical manufacturer Merck pledged to increase access to its contraceptive implant, Implanon®, through reduced prices and the introduction of new financing and procurement options. Britain's Secretary of State for International Development, Andrew Mitchell, addressed participants by video on his government's commitment to reducing unmet need for modern family planning. The German and French governments announced pledges of financial support for reproductive health. And US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reaffirmed in writing her government's support for the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition. The meeting also saw the premiere of an exciting multimedia presentation, Meeting the Challenge of a New Decade, and the release of two new publications: a history of the global supplies movement by Julie Solo; and the Secretariat's 2010 Annual Report. Finally, a draft Call to Action was issued that sets out priorities for achieving RHCS in the coming decade. For more information about the entire week's worth of events in Addis Ababa, including the Coalition's Annual Membership Meeting, check out the new Access for All webpage.
Coalition on the scene
Draft Call to Action now available for comment
The draft Access for All Call to Action is now online and open for comments from meeting participants. During the conference and the side events that preceded it, representatives from the drafting committee collected key recommendations for the Call to Action. A comment box was available throughout the conference and participants were encouraged to share their thoughts by submitting comment cards, which were also taken into consideration as the draft was developed. The resulting Call to Action was presented to the participants at the end of the conference. As agreed during the meeting, two weeks have been set aside for participants to reflect, comment, and submit their final input on the Call to Action. Input should be submitted to Lou Compernolle by 15 July. The final Call to Action will be posted on the Coalition website on 25 July 2011.
Country representatives kick off conference events
A pre-conference session organized by Population Action International (PAI) with the support of the Coalition's Innovation Fund kicked off the week-long series of events encompassing the Access for All conference. The day-long session, entitled Setting an Agenda for RH Supplies, provided countries a platform to ensure that they played the strongest possible role in shaping the next phase of the RH supplies movement. More than 35 stakeholders from Bangladesh, Ghana, Ethiopia, Mexico, Nigeria, and Tanzania came together to exchange their knowledge and experience about current and future challenges and opportunities facing the RH supplies community.
Participants identified priority areas for action that focused on the need for coordination across all sectors; greater attention to youth, underserved populations, and neglected regions; improvement of supply chain management; stronger alliances with the private sector; and strengthened civil society leadership. Several of these recommendations were included in the draft Call to Action. For more information on this meeting, please contact Elisha Dunn-Giorgu.
Partners highlight maternal health supplies
Ensuring access to critical maternal health (MH) commodities has been a recurrent theme within the Coalition for many years. Thanks to the participation at Access for All of leaders and champions in the maternal health field, it now looks as though those aspirations will finally become reality. In addition to the inclusion of MH supplies in the Access for All draft Call to Action, an interim task force will be formed to formulate concrete recommendations for better integration of MH supplies throughout the Coalition's work. Recommendations will be made to the Coalition's Executive Committee during their fall 2011 meeting. The Secretariat is currently developing a scope of work for the task force, and meetings will begin over the summer. For more information, please contact Bonnie Keith.
Meeting the needs of Francophone Africa
In Addis Ababa, the seeds for a new regional forum were sown as participants from across Francophone Africa and others took part in an “Open Space” meeting entitled “Can we sustain motivation, commitment and action? Improving access to reproductive health supplies in Francophone Africa”.
The meeting was an enriching encounter focusing on exchanging experiences, listening, and most importantly, building joint understanding and action. Through a collaborative process, eight themes were put forward and further elaborated on by the group. Key activities were also identified to take these themes forward as a group. Ties between participants were strengthened and form a strong basis for the Francophone Forum, which will be facilitated by the Coalition Secretariat. For more information, contact Lou Compernolle or Gloria Castany.
From workstream to new global initiative: People that Deliver
What started out as a workstream within the SSWG has, in less than three years, turned into a new global initiative: People that Deliver. The initiative seeks to improve health outcomes by developing sustainable excellence in the health workforce for supply chain management and for overcoming existing and emerging health supply challenges. The initiative convenes country governments and local NGOs with global organizations focusing on human resource issues, supply chain systems, pharmacies, essential medicines, HIV, tuberculosis, immunization, malaria, RH, and other health programmes—all with the aim of working together to strengthen human resources for health supply chain management.
On 28 and 29 June, 170 representatives from 13 country delegations and more than 60 international organizations assembled at WHO headquarters in Geneva for People that Deliver's Global Positioning and Harmonization Conference. Building on the results of preliminary field research (financed in part through the Coalition's Innovation Fund), country presentations, and broad-based discussion, participants reached consensus on priority interventions to support countries in strengthening human resources for supply chain management, and began to plan the structures and mechanisms through which the initiative will work. Five of the seven focus countries also held day-long action planning sessions to determine how to move the effort forward in their country. For more information on the conference or People that Deliver, visit the website or contact Kevin Pilz.
LAC Forum and SSWG to partner under the Innovation Fund
Peru's Asociación Benéfica PRISMA has, on behalf of the Systems Strengthening Working Group and LAC Forum, been awarded a grant under Round 7 of the Coalition's Innovation Fund. The aim of the award is to improve RH supplies procurement in Latin America through the adaptation and application of the PATH Procurement Capacity Toolkit. PRISMA will adapt the toolkit to better reflect regional realities, translate it into Spanish, and apply it in a pilot training course to be conducted jointly with the CIES-UNAN, the Health Research and Studies Center of the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua. For more information, contact Carlos Gutierrez, Director of Economic Development at PRISMA.
Coalition welcomes six new members
This month, the Coalition welcomed six new members, bringing our total membership to 146. Learn more about them by clicking on the following links:
Highlights from the Working Groups
Joint Working Group Session at Addis
Members of the SSWG and the MDAWG met in joint session in Addis Ababa to discuss prequalification and quality of RH medicines. Presentations were given on the WHO Prequalification Programme, quality assurance policies, and the Accessing Quality Assured RH Supplies (AQAS) Initiative. Participants learned that approximately 20 dossiers from hormonal contraceptive manufacturers are currently under review by the Prequalification Programme and it is likely that as many as 18 finished pharmaceutical products will be prequalified by 2014. Additionally, nine priority companies are under assessment to prequalify their active pharmaceutical ingredients. For more information, please contact Steve Kinzett.
Systems Strengthening Working Group (SSWG)
Coordinated Assistance for Reproductive Health Supplies (CARhs): In Addis Ababa, SSWG Chair David Smith announced that starting in July, management of the CARhs would transition from USAID, which has occupied the post for the past three years, to UNFPA’s Commodity Security Branch in New York. David, on behalf of the Coalition, thanked both Kevin Pilz and Kaitlyn Roche of USAID for the energy and commitment they have put into making the CARhs the great success it is.
David also congratulated the CARhs on its recent achievements. He pointed out that in the 12-month period ending in September 2010, the CARhs had addressed 184 separate supply crises, the highest number since the group was established in 2005. Moreover, when called upon to act, it successfully averted stockouts 65 percent of the time. In 2010, the CARhs drove the procurement of more than US $8.7 million in RH commodities. Earlier this year, it identified and arranged the transfer of more than $2 million worth of excess implants from Rwanda to Burkina Faso.
These new developments did not, however, divert the CARhs from pursuing its ongoing activities. This month the CARhs responded to 12 requests for information from six countries. The group discussed potential impending stockouts of female condoms in Kenya and male condoms in Tanzania, and members agreed to address these issues with their country offices to work toward mobilizing resources for procurements. Contact Kevin Pilz for more information.
Resource Mobilization and Awareness Working Group (RMAWG)
RMAWG comes together in Addis: On 21 June, approximately 100 members of the RMAWG met to develop their strategic priorities for 2012. Members explored key opportunities and potential actions to improve the donor and national government commitments toward increasing access to contraceptive supplies and services. A task force was established that will create a SMART plan based on the meeting’s outputs. The plan will list the group’s advocacy opportunities and actions.
In the coming year, the RMAWG will seek to align its strategy and efforts more closely to those of the Coalition’s HANDtoHAND Campaign, which specifically supports achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, particularly 5a and b. For more information, contact Lou Compernolle.
Latin America/Caribbean Forum on Reproductive Health Commodity Security (LAC Forum)
Latin America and the Caribbean were well represented at Access for All, as delegates from across the region met together to explore future directions for the LAC Forum. Much of the delegates' discussions focused on the results of a preliminary landscaping exercise on RHCS in the LAC region, conducted by an independent consultancy firm on health and demography, INSAD, in Mexico. The objective of the exercise was to identify challenges and propose solutions to which LAC Forum members, acting together, could add value. Building on the lessons of the recently published paper on the history of the supplies movement by Julie Solo, the exercise sought to encourage “leadership from behind”—the identification of priorities, irrespective of institutional affiliation, as a basis for common action and problem solving.
Throughout the week, LAC members provided the author of the study, Dr. Ricardo Vernon, with recommendations for further exploration, including the identification of focus countries. Discussions will continue as LAC Forum members meet next month in Panama for their first annual membership meeting. For more information, contact Gloria Castany.
For more details on the above and other events, see the events calendar on the Coalition website.