March 2012 in Review        
In the spotlight
Pledge Guarantee for Health closes $12 million deal for Ethiopia

Proving once again its ability to maximize donor funding, the Pledge Guarantee for Health (PGH) has closed its latest deal—one that will enable the Ethiopian Ministry of Health (MOH) to accelerate the delivery of more than 600,000 contraceptive implants. By combining financial support from both the World Bank and DFID, the deal—the largest such procurement in its manufacturer’s history—promises to reduce maternal and infant deaths in the country by as much as 40 percent at no additional costs. Dr. Kesete Admasu Birhane, Ethiopia’s State Minister said "With the help of PGH and our donor partners, we are able to achieve more and achieve it faster." For more information on this exciting development, contact Aron Betru, PGH Director at the UN Foundation.

Coalition on the scene
China Contraceptive Supplies Administration welcomes Coalition Director
This month, Coalition Director John Skibiak visited China at the invitation of the China Contraceptive Supplies Administration, which joined the Coalition just last December. The aim of the visit was to brief officials and leading pharmaceutical manufacturers on the Coalition’s work, but also to share the views of those with whom he visited with the wider Coalition membership. Key topics included China's commitment to RH commodity security, the value of meeting international standards of quality assurance, the importance of the domestic market, and the opportunities and challenges of competing internationally. On a ten-day visit that took him across 4,500 kilometers, John met with senior government officials, including Mme. Cui Li, Vice Minister of the National Population and Family Planning Commission. He also met with the manufacturers of SinoImplant (Dahua), O'LavieTM Woman’s Condom (Shanghai Dahua), male condoms (Guangzhou Double One Latex), the Yuanogng IUD (Yantai Family Planning), and oral contraceptives (ZiZhu). Follow Facebook, Twitter, and the Coalition website for more information on the visit, or contact either John Skibiak or Mr. Song Yi, Deputy Division Director of the CCSA.
Implanon Access Initiative poised to deliver more for less
The Implanon Access Initiative (IAI) is an innovative partnership that aims to increase access to the contraceptive implant, Implanon. Launched at last year’s Access for All meeting, the IAI has yielded price reductions for low-income countries, financial plans to amortize the method’s upfront purchase price, and strategies for making in-stock supplies available for faster delivery. Merck announced this month that due to a recent surge in orders for Implanon, the RH community is now within 25 percent of the total volume required to trigger a second, retroactive price cut. And should that happen, the IAI will have, since June 2011, generated savings sufficient to provide nearly a million addition women with Implanon. For more information, contact Coalition Director John Skibiak.
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Recognizing a trailblazer: Frank Roijmans

This month, the Coalition bids a bittersweet farewell to Frank Roijmans, a colleague, supplies champion, and ardent advocate for women’s health. On 31 March, Frank retired from MSD/Merck, where he had served as Program Director for Family Planning. But his engagement with the Coalition extended much further than that. In 2007, he encouraged his employer at the time, Organon, to become the Coalition’s first "corporate" member—and in doing so, Frank became our first true "businessman."


Throughout the subsequent ups and downs of the corporate landscape, Frank remained a steadfast supplies champion—and in 2011, he found himself blazing another trail. By opening the door to discussions with MSD/Merck over the price of Implanon, he set in motion a process of dialogue between buyers and sellers that would repeat itself throughout the coming year, ultimately saving the RH community well over US$9 million and increasing global access to modern contraception. We in the Secretariat will miss our day-to-day interaction with Frank, but his passion and energy are sure signs his departure will not signal silence. We wish him the best and look forward to blazing new trails together in the years to come.

Susan Rich and John Worley leave big shoes to fill on the Executive Committee

This month saw two supply champions step down from the Coalition’s Executive Committee. The first is Susan Rich, who—since 2006—has represented the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation while championing the Coalition and RH commodity security more broadly. During her tenure at the Gates Foundation, Susan was instrumental in developing the Foundation’s first five-year Family Planning strategy, a notable achievement that made possible substantial grants to the Coalition and the Innovation Fund. But perhaps most importantly, Susan is—as noted in last year’s history of RH commodity security, one of our movement’s early founders: knowledgeable, outspoken, and committed to the cause.


The second departure is that of John Worley. John has represented IPPF on the Executive Committee since 2010, and like Susan, has roots that run deep in the commodity security movement. In 2001, John represented DFID at the Istanbul Conference and subsequently played a key role in the Interim Working Group that eventually evolved into today's Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition.


Susan and John leave the Executive Committee with very large shoes to fill. We thank them both for their dedication and tireless support; we wish them both the very best in their new endeavors; and we look forward to working together with them in the years to come.

Financial Times to publish supplement on reproductive health
The Coalition is excited announce the launch of a partnership with the Financial Times of London to feature a "reproductive health (supplies) and contraception" special report. The four- to eight-page insert to the Times will be produced by the paper’s health editorial team and appear ahead of the July 2012 Family Planning Summit in London. This special report will reach more than two million readers and decision-makers globally and represents a unique opportunity for the Coalition to gain previously unseen publicity and raise awareness for commodity security. If you have any questions, are interested in booking an advertisement, or would like to suggest story ideas, please contact Florian Eisele with the Coalition Secretariat.
Coalition helps shape UN Commodities Commission
The Coalition’s Caucus on New and Underused RH Technologies has been singled out by the UN Secretary General’s office for its contribution to the recently-launched UN Commission on Life-saving Commodities for Women and Children. Hosted by UNICEF and UNFPA under the auspices of the Every Woman, Every Child initiative, the Commission’s objective is to improve the delivery of essential health supplies. In announcing the launch, the Every Woman, Every Child website singles out the important role of the Coalition and its partners in having identified three commodities (female condoms, emergency contraception, and implants) that meet the Commission’s criteria of "essential but undertilized," while encompassing the full range of barriers faced by health systems in delivering contraceptive supplies—all of which remain underutilized. A final version of the pre-work document Key Data Findings on Contraceptive Commodities for Women's Health is now available on the Coalition website. For more information on the Commission, please contact Dr. Ahmed Kabir at UNFPA.
First-ever external evaluation of Coalition
The first full evaluation of the Coalition began earlier this month. Commissioned by the core funders of the Coalition’s Secretariat (USAID, DFID, UNFPA, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) the evaluation will assess how well the Coalition has met its objectives and made an impact on RH commodity security; how effective its structures and processes have been in achieving its objectives; and how its role can evolve to meet the current and emerging environment for family planning.
The evaluation is an important opportunity for members to provide feedback on the Coalition and views on its future strategy. For more information, please contact Coalition Director John Skibiak.
Coalition welcomes eight new members in March

In March, the Coalition welcomed eight new members, including the governments of Mexico, Nicaragua, and Mauritania, bringing total membership to 178. Learn more about these organizations by clicking on the links below:

Highlights from the Working Groups
Working Group Leaders meet in Brussels
Earlier this month, Working Group (WG) Leaders met with Secretariat staff in Brussels to formulate a clear vision for the WGs and reach consensus on the requirements for Secretariat support that will allow them to perform optimally. By the end of the meeting, there was agreement on the need to improve dissemination of results, align strategic goals (and monitoring of key indicators), reinforce greater WG collaboration, and encourage the involvement of partners from the Global South. In the coming weeks, Secretariat staff will work with the WGs to formulate a concept paper that frames and operationalizes this new vision. For more information, please contact Lou Compernolle or Bonnie Keith at the Secretariat.
Systems Strengthening Working Group (SSWG)

Coordinated Assistance for Reproductive Health Supplies (CARhs): In March, the CARhs responded to eight requests for assistance in improving RH supply chain management in five countries. In Togo, new shipments were created for Jadelle implants, Microgynon combined orals, and male condoms. Meanwhile in Kenya, a shipment of Depo-Provera was expedited to avert a shortfall.


Also this month, the CARhs announced the development of a more user-friendly Procurement Planning and Monitoring Report (PPMR) database, which will be open to all and housed on the Coalition's "Resources and Tools" webpage.


Contact Joe Abraham for more information. 

Upcoming events

3 AprMarket Development Approaches Working Group teleconference
10 AprCaucus on New and Underused RH Technologies teleconference
10–11 AprJoint framework meeting of the Mesoamerican Initiative, Panama
16–18 AprReproductive Health Medicines Programme-Meeting on Hormonal Contraceptives and Essential Medicines, UNFPA, New York
15–17 MayLAC Forum, Panama
22–23 MaySystems Strengthening Working Group meeting, JSI headquarters, Washington, DC
4–5 JuneMarket Development Approaches Working Group meeting, Menlo Park, California
26–27 JuneResource Mobilization and Awareness Working Group meeting, Brussels
28–29 JuneFrancophone Forum (SECONAF) Advocacy Group meeting, Brussels
July 11High-level family planning event, London
4–5 OctCoalition Annual Membership Meeting, Paris

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