November 2008 in Review
In the spotlight
Executive Committee meets in New York
On November 10, members of the Coalition’s Executive Committee gathered at UNFPA Headquarters in New York for their second semiannual meeting of 2008. The Committee welcomed to its ranks Mr. Harry Jooseery of Partners in Population and Development (PPD) and Dr. Stanley Sonoiya of the East African Community. They also paid tribute to former Committee member and colleague Terri Bartlett, who had sadly passed away just days before the meeting. Terri's commitment to supply security is recalled on a page dedicated to her memory on the Coalition’s website.
In keeping with the Coalition’s new membership and governance policies, the one-day meeting was the first to take place independently of the general membership meeting. It also served as the venue for a host of new announcements and developments, described in this issue of SupplyInsider. A summary of the minutes will soon be available online.
Coalition launches Innovation Fund: This month, the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition announced the establishment of a new Innovation Fund which will provide over $2 million in grants to support workstreams and other new initiatives carried out under the Coalition’s Working Groups. Made possible by a generous grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Fund is designed to further the strategic objectives of the Coalition and supplement the substantial financial support to workstreams already being provided by key Coalition members and donors.
The Fund will be managed by the Secretariat with reviews and allocations made three times a year in 2009 and 2010 and once in 2011. Applications for the first round of disbursements are due by January 15, 2009. For more information on the Fund, contact the Secretariat or write to Innovation@RHsupplies.org.
Malcolm McNeil to become next Coalition Chair: At its meeting, Executive Committee members unanimously approved the nomination of Malcolm McNeil as the Coalition’s incoming Chair. Malcolm is Leader of the AIDS and Reproductive Health Team within the Policy and Research Division of the UK Department for International Development (DFID). He has worked in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and his specialties include health education, community-based interventions, and strategic planning and consensus building. Malcolm will assume the new post in May when the term of the current Chair, Wolfgang Bichmann, officially ends. A biography on Mr. McNeil can be found on the Coalition's website.
DFID to host next Annual Membership Meeting: The Executive Committee gratefully accepted DFID’s offer to host the Coalition’s tenth Membership Meeting, which will take place in late May/early June of 2009. The exact location and dates will be announced as soon as they are available.
Coalition on the scene
Review of Secretariat now online
A review of the Secretariat’s performance and future vision is now available online. The report, authored by Nel Druce of HLSP, reviews key strategic and visioning documents produced by the Coalition and synthesizes the results of a standardized questionnaire administered last summer to all Coalition members. The questionnaire addressed existing Secretariat roles and responsibilities, the Secretariat’s performance in fulfilling those roles, and the identification of any new activities that would further the Coalition’s strategic goals and interests. Key findings from the review have been incorporated into a concept paper, prepared on behalf of the Executive Committee that will define the content of future funding proposals for Secretariat support.
France joins the Coalition
On November 4, Mr. Alain Joyandet, Secretary of State for International Cooperation and Francophonie, confirmed France’s membership in the Coalition. In a ceremony held at the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, Mr. Joyandet joined Coalition Director, John Skibiak, in highlighting the importance of France’s participation in the Coalition, its commitment to furthering the achievement of MDG 5, and its contribution to improving the sexual and reproductive health of women in low- and middle-income countries. France now becomes the seventh bilateral member of the Coalition. A more detailed account of the ceremony is available by clicking here.
Focus on Ghana and Uganda
Ghana and Uganda are among fourteen nations designated by the Coalition as focus countries. This status reflects their involvement in key Working Group activities, as well their role as indicators of the Coalition's progress in achieving its strategic goals. This month, Coalition Director John Skibiak met with key supply stakeholders in both countries as a first step in seeking their governments’ membership in the Coalition. In Accra, John described the work of the Coalition at a workshop on Supply Advocacy organized jointly by Project RMA and Ghana’s IPPF member association, Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (see below). The following week, John travelled to Kampala to attend the International Forum on ICPD@15 and the 13th Annual Board meeting of PPD. The event concluded with the unanimous adoption of a declaration that describes commodity security as the “backbone of all RH programmes”. It encouraged governments to “make use of the opportunity provided by the creation of the Minimum Volume Guarantee (now known as AccessRH)"
Special Update: Global Financing and Procurement
MVG and PG get new names
The procurement and financing mechanisms once known as Minimum Volume Guarantee (MVG) and Pledge Guarantee (PG) have been rebranded. To ensure easier name-recognition and more accurately reflect their functionality, the MVG will henceforth be known as “AccessRH”, while the PG will have “for Health” added to its name.
UNFPA, the managing organization of AccessRH, has already begun transforming the new procurement mechanism into reality. This month, Mike Vigrass of UNFPA/Copenhagen was appointed AccessRH Interim Manager, and efforts are now underway to recruit the rest of his management team. One of the team's first activities will be to seek out donor support for the new mechanism. An estimated US$5 million will be required to operate AccessRH for the first three years.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Foundation (UNF), operator of the Pledge Guarantee for Health, announced plans to establish an advisory committee and to begin hiring staff early next year. UNF, which is also seeking donor support, expects a bank partner and third-party guarantor to be on board by mid-2009.
Highlights from the Working Groups
Systems Strengthening Working Group (SSWG)
RHInterchange (RHI): Participants at Project RMA’s Accra workshop on Supply Advocacy were treated to a demonstration of the RHI and its use by Leslie Patykewich of JSI. Government and civil society stakeholders were shown how the RHI could be used to advocate for RH supplies, with many subsequently registering to access more detailed RHI information.
RHI has upgraded its home page, reflecting users' requests to streamline available information. The page now links to a brochure in English, Spanish, and French, and includes a "What's New?" section that features the latest upgrades.
Countries at Risk (CAR): Members of the CAR met on October 29 and November 26 to discuss solutions for a growing list of imminent or actual contraceptive stockouts. USAID transfered excess IUDs from Malawi to relieve a stockout in Kenya. Stocks for several other contraceptives in Kenya’s public sector are also dwindling; both UNFPA and USAID are exploring options to help Kenya avert stockouts and improve their procurement planning. Ghana's Ministry of Health is also nearing a stockout of several key contraceptives and is in discussions with UNFPA to procure those supplies with government funds. USAID is considering an expedited air shipment of combined oral contraceptives to Ethiopia to preclude a stockout at Ministry facilities. Contact Kevin Pilz for information.
Market Development Approaches Working Group (MDA WG)
Total Market Initiative (TMI): Members of the MDA WG met in Washington, DC on 17 – 18 November to discuss options for implementing a TMI. Participants agreed to take advantage of the Coalition's new Innovation Fund and submit two proposals for the TMI. Two countries were selected for the development of initiatives to foster the total market approach. Contact Ben Light for more information.
Market Segmentation Toolkit: Rebecca Patsika of Abt Associates is continuing her search for any market segmentation materials that could be used to define a country-level supply or demand strategy. These could include conceptual frameworks, case studies, research protocols, statistical analysis methods, questionnaires, and/or reports on research results. Click here to access more details. Materials should be submitted to Rebecca Patsika, with a copy to Steve Kinzett and Ben Light, by January 15.
Resource Mobilization and Awareness Working Group (RMA WG)
Project RMA: In cooperation with Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG), ProjectRMA hosted a Reproductive Health Supplies Advocacy meeting November 19 - 21 in Accra, Ghana. At this strategic gathering entitled "Global Policy Frameworks: Turning Commitment into Access for RH Supplies", civil-society advocates and key stakeholders spoke about advocacy opportunities presented by regional and global policy frameworks and how to turn commitment into access for RH Supplies. Participants shared strategies and plans, and joined forces with each other in their shared goals at the national, regional, and global levels. The meeting included a training session on the Advocacy Guide and Toolkit and the RHInterchange. The last day of the meeting also afforded participants the opportunity of a site visit to Ghana's Central Medical Stores and a PPAG clinic.
Countdown 2015 Europe: On the November 16, 2008, Countdown 2015 Europe co-hosted the side event “Health MDGs and Local Governance” at the European Development Days in Strasbourg. Nono Simelela (IPPF) addressed the need for more coordinated and predictable aid flows to improve the decentralized delivery of basic services, using the example of RH supplies. She stressed the importance of secured and sustained access to quality and affordable commodity supplies as a critical driver of reproductive and sexual health, child health, and communicable-disease treatment and prevention.
On November 27, 2008, Countdown 2015 Europe partners IPPF/Europe and MSI participated in the General Assembly of CONCORD, the European NGO Confederation for Relief and Development. IPPF stressed the importance of RH and RH supplies, while MSI illustrated this point by screening the BBC Panorama documentary “Dead Mums Don’t Cry.” Participants recognized the importance of keeping gender high on the CONCORD agenda and the need to explore further collaboration with Countdown 2015 Europe, especially regarding Official Development Assistance of European donors for RH Supplies.
Advocacy Toolkit: Last September, USAID Health Policy Initiative (HPI) and the East, Central, and Southern Africa Health Community (ECSA) conducted a workshop on the role of advocacy at improving contraceptive supply availability. Using the Coalition's Advocacy Toolkit, participants identified key issues affecting supply security in their respective countries. HPI staff helped each country prepare an advocacy objective, identify target audience(s), and understand key steps in the advocacy process. Through this workshop, HPI came away with a number of suggestions for improving the toolkit and its application; proposed changes are being discussed within the RMA Working Group.
For more details on the above and other events, see the events calendar on the Coalition website.
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