May 2009 in Review
In the spotlight
WHO prequalifies first hormonal contraceptives
WHO announced this month it had prequalified two oral contraceptives—the first hormonal contraceptives to obtain prequalification under its programme. The products, manufactured by Bayer Schering, include a combined low-dose pill (ethinylestradiol/levonorgestrel, 30µg/150µg), which many will already know by its brand name, Microgynon. They also include a progestin-only pill (levonorgestrel 30µg) widely marketed throughout the world under the trade name Microlut. The Coalition congratulates Bayer Schering and the WHO Prequalification Programme on this important step in expanding access to quality RH commodities.
Coalition on the scene
Tenth Membership Meeting details
As we go to press, the Tenth Membership Meeting promises to be the largest ever—with over 120 participants already confirmed. For the most up-to-date information on the week’s events, consult the Coalition's meeting website and the calendar page with dates, times, venues, and agendas. See you in London!
This month, the Coalition welcomes its three newest members:
Government of Ghana: Through the Ghana Health Services, Ghana this month became the second African government to join the Coalition. This event comes on the heels of some notable achievements related to RH in the West African country. In July 2008, the government passed legislation to include maternal health services within the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). The Interagency Coordinating Committee for Contraceptive Security (ICC/CS), a group of stakeholder’s brought together by the Ministry of Health to coordinate national-level RH commodity security efforts, has since expressed commitment to extending the NHIS to cover family planning services as well. In addition, the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana has partnered with the Ghana Drugs Administration (GDA) to revise the National Essential Medicines List (NEML). This marks the first time the GDA has collaborated with a civil-society organization and has resulted in contraceptive devices being included in the draft list of the NEML for the first time ever.
Schering-Plough Corporation: For more than 25 years, Organon, now part of Schering-Plough Corporation, made a broad range of hormonal contraceptives available to family planning programmes around the world. Its work, particularly over the past six years, was guided by the desire to further the Millennium Development Goals—specifically Goals 4, 5, and 6—through access to affordable contraception, partnership, and in-country work. With the integration of family planning activities into the Schering-Plough organization now nearing completion, Schering-Plough looks forward to formalizing its bonds of cooperation and collaboration with the Coalition, which have—in practice—linked the two organizations for some time.
Injeflex Industria e Comercio de Dispositivos e Correlatos Medicos, Ltda: A Brazilian-based manufacturer of high quality TCu380A and TCu380S intrauterine devices (IUDs), Injeflex currently supplies UNFPA, IPPF, Marie Stopes International, USAID and the Brazilian Ministry of Health.
Stop Stock-outs campaigners brief African Ministers of Health
This month, members of the new Stop The Stock-outs campaign provided African ministers of health with an informative briefing on the dramatic impact that essential medicines stockouts have on vulnerable populations, including women, children, and infants. The briefing took place as part of the Fourth Session of the African Union (AU) Conference of Ministers of Health in Addis Ababa from May 4–8, 2009, which met under this year’s theme of “Universal Access to Quality Health Services: Improve Maternal Neonatal and Child Health.”
Through its Joint African Civil Society Statement on Access to Essential Medicines, Stop The Stock-outs campaigners highlighted five strategies for minimizing the risk of stockouts. These included local production, where feasible; up-to-date information on patent status; pooled procurement; protection of high-quality generic equivalents from anti-counterfeit legislation; and sustained commitment to the 2001 Abuja target of providing 15 percent of the national budget for health expenditures. The Statement can be downloaded here.
For more information on the AU Conference of Ministers of Health, please visit the AU website.
UNFPA Global Programme meeting in Burkina Faso
Earlier this month, UNFPA hosted a meeting of its Global Programme to Enhance Reproductive Health Commodity Security (GP) donors in Burkina Faso. The participants included Canada, France, Denmark, Germany (KfW and GTZ), Spain and Catalonia, The Netherlands, and the West African Health Organization. This was the third donor meeting; the first was in Brussels in 2007 and the second was held in Madrid in 2008.
The meeting provided an opportunity to discuss the GP’s monitoring and evaluation framework and to take stock of progress made to date. Field visits were also conducted to District Sanitaire de Koupela and to Baskuy in Ouagadougou, which allowed the participants to see the difference being made by the GP in the lives of women, children and families. Additional meetings were held with the Minister of Health and the President of the Parliament.
The discussions that followed the presentation of the 2008 GP Progress Report indicated that significant progress had been made at the global level and by many GP Stream 1 countries. The donors also noted that the GP was a highly successful “offspring” of UNFPA’s collaborative work with the Coalition. Wolfgang Theis from KfW will give a short report at the Coalition Membership Meeting in June.
Highlights from the Working Groups
Systems Strengthening Working Group (SSWG)
AccessRH: This month, the European Commission announced it decision to award €2.5 million to UNFPA which will enable the agency’s Copenhagen-based Procurement program to manage AccessRH, an innovative procurement mechanism that, once operational, promises to lower costs and improve the efficiency of RH commodity procurement worldwide. Though the Commission’s generous grant represents an important step in making AccessRH a reality, additional funding is still needed to meet the initiative’s total costs. During the upcoming Coalition Membership Meeting, a session is being devoted to AccessRH, its accomplishments, and challenges ahead. Further information on AccessRH can be found here.
Countries at Risk (CAR): This month’s CAR teleconference continued efforts to coordinate global donor response to emergency stock issues and requests for shipment information. UNFPA announced that emergency shipments of all stocked-out contraceptives in Kenya (with the exception of the female condom, which is being handled separately) are already on their way. Other actions included an expedited shipment of IUDs to Ghana. Other countries discussed in this month’s call were Liberia and Nigeria. For more information contact Kevin Pilz.
Market Development Approaches Working Group (MDA WG)
Market Segmentation Toolkit: Abt Associates completed the first draft of the Market Segmentation Toolkit, a collaborative effort between many Coalition partners. Abt Associates are requesting feedback on the toolkit by July 1, 2009; the draft Toolkit can be downloaded here. Please contact Rebecca Patsika of Abt Associates with any comments or suggestions. A presentation on the toolkit will be made at the Coalition MDA annual meeting on June 1, 2009 to provide more information.
Resource Mobilization and Awareness Working Group (RMA WG)
Project RMA: Project RMA has completed six country case studies that, together with a synthesis paper summarizing their key findings, make a significant step forward in building the case for increased investments in RH programs. The case studies analyze the RH supplies policy environment, health systems structure, financing, logistics, and development and civil-society partners in Bangladesh, Ghana, Mexico, Nicaragua, Tanzania, and Uganda.
The case studies and their synthesis paper will be launched at the Coalition’s Membership Meeting in London. Starting June 4, these publications will be accessible on Population Action International’s website.
For more details on the above and other events, see the events calendar on the Coalition website.
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