November 2009 in Review
In the spotlight
Executive Committee meets in Brussels

On Friday, 20 November, members of the Coalition’s Executive Committee gathered in Brussels for their second semiannual meeting of 2009. Chaired by Julia Bunting of DFID, the Committee reviewed the Coalition’s activities and finances over the past six months. Coalition Director John Skibiak confirmed multiyear financial commitments to the Secretariat by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, UNFPA, and USAID, but noted that additional resources were still needed to meet the full budget proposed in the 2009 Concept Paper. The Committee agreed to explore new opportunities to secure additional funding. During the morning session, the Committee formally welcomed new member Ms. Marieke Boot of the European Commission.

The second agenda item discussed was the ongoing efforts by Coalition partners to assist the Maternal and Newborn Health (MNH) community in addressing commodity security. The Committee recommended that that Secretariat, together with UNFPA, proactively engage MNH partners to ensure the effective transfer of its knowledge and expertise on commodity security. 

Turning to the Innovation Fund, the Secretariat reported that in the past year, more than 30 concept notes and 15 full proposals had been developed10 of which were awarded funds totaling $1.2 million. In looking to the future, the Committee recommended that the Secretariat take steps to distribute the balance of the Fund over the coming two years so as to extend the life of a valued Coalition resource, broaden the pool of potential grant applicants, and provide more time to replenish the Fund.

Finally, the Committee addressed the question of the 2010 Annual Membership Meeting. Noting that the evaluation of last June’s meeting showed strong interest in the event being held outside Europe or North America, Partners in Population and Development nominated Kampala, the hometown of their Africa Regional Office. Acknowledging that Uganda was the first developing-country government to join the Coalition, the Committee unanimously accepted the nomination. The dates of the meeting have been set for the week of 24 May 2010.   

Minutes of the Executive Committee meeting will be distributed to Committee members in mid-December. A more detailed summary of key recommendations and discussions will be posted on the Coalition website soon thereafter.

Coalition on the scene
The deadline for Round Four of the Innovation Fund has been extended to 1 February 2010. Furthermore, applications must now be sent by that date to the relevant Working Group Leader. For the latest information on the Innovation Fund, consult the Coalition website.


Working Group Leaders meet in Brussels

On the eve of the Coalition’s Executive Committee meeting, leaders of the Coalition’s three Working Groups (WG) met to update one another on WG activities, share challenges faced over the past year (and strategies used to overcome them), and provide guidance to the Secretariat on meeting the administrative needs of the WG’s. Together with Secretariat staff, WG leaders recommended changes in the procedures for scheduling and reviewing Innovation Fund applications (see Innovation Fund webpage), agreed upon strategies for timelier updating of online workstream descriptions, and identified new web-based approaches for announcing upcoming WG events and archiving past meeting minutes. The WG leaders also identified a number of workstreams that will likely serve as future targets for cross-WG input and collaboration. These included AccessRH, the Pledge Guarantee for Health, and prequalification.  

Bridging nine time zones

In order to meet the operational needs of the Coalition, staff of the Brussels-based Secretariat have long depended on the part-time support of colleagues in Washington, DC, and Seattle. Defying the challenges of working across nine time zones, these colleagues help administer the Innovation Fund, they manage the grants on which the Secretariat itself depends, they prepare the minutes of key Coalition meetings, and write and edit communication materials, including this newsletter. This month, for the first time ever, staff from all three offices met together in Brussels. It was an intense five days of planning and strategizing that also included preparations for the following week’s meetings of the Working Group leaders and Executive Committee. From the meetings, key decisions were reached that will result in an accelerated expansion and updating of the Supplies Information Database; better back-stopping of the Working Groups and Caucus on New and Underused RH Technologies; the development of new website features, including member highlights and country pages; and a more effective and timely translation of key Coalition documents.   

Spanish-language advisory group is born

With the Spanish version of the website now online, the Coalition has taken its second major step in reaching out to partners in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). A Spanish-language advisory group has been formed, which will help identify LAC-related issues where the Coalition can add value, and then use those issues to shape future initiatives and activities in the region. During its first teleconference, held on 11 November, the group focused on the challenges of procurement by the nongovernmental sector as well as the need for public-sector commitments to ensure broad access to both RH services and commodities. This teleconference and ones to follow will constitute the building blocks of future Coalition involvement in the region. Any Spanish-speakers interested in joining the discussion are encouraged to do so. Please contact Gloria Castany for more information.

Addressing maternal health supplies

In partnership with the Maternal Health Task Force of EngenderHealth, PAI is implementing an 18-month project on maternal health supplies. In this project, PAI will facilitate the integration and engagement of maternal health groups into the Coalition in order to create greater understanding of and action on maternal health supply challenges. Lessons learned from the Coalition and Project RMA will be shared with advocates from the maternal health community. PAI will also work to build a greater understanding within the Coalition of the importance of supplies for maternal health. One of PAI’s first steps will be to publish a maternal health supplement to the country case studies published earlier this year. The long-term goal of the project is to enable maternal health advocates to ensure that adequate supplies are consistently available toward achievement of MDG 5Improve Maternal Health. For further information on this initiative, please email Jennifer Bergeson-Lockwood.

Action Canada for Population and Development launches new list serve

Action Canada for Population and Development (ACPD) has invited Coalition members to join a new listserv that will track and report on Canadian-based advocacy initiatives related to next year’s G8 and G20 Summits. The listserv is part of a broader initiative by ACPD to use Canada’s hosting of the summits as an opportunity to draw global attention to the cause of RH commodity security, and also to highlight Canada's role in advancing that cause. To learn more about the listserv, or to subscribe, please click here.

Coalition Factsheet now available

The Secretariat has published a two-page factsheet that highlights the work of the Coalition, its strategic objectives, and its global membership. The factsheet is designed for general audiences interested in reproductive health supplies. The factsheet can be downloaded here.

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

Countries at Risk (CAR): During its November teleconference, the CAR group provided shipment and stock updates for thirteen countries and worked toward resolving challenges in the following countries:

  • (Ghana) Marie Stopes International Ghana (MSIG) donated female condoms to UNFPA to help the Ministry of Health relieve low stock levels. UNFPA and USAID are working with field offices to coordinate 2010 funding and planning to alleviate an injectable stock out at the central warehouse. If necessary, MSIG indicated its willingness to loan injectables until the next shipment arrives.
  • (Mozambique) Low stock levels of progestin-only pills prompted UNFPA to inquire with its national office, USAID|DELIVER, and the Ministry of Health whether a stock out could be avoided if an interim quantity were shipped before USAID stocks arrive in 2010.

The next CAR meeting will take place on 6 January 2010. Additionally, the time has now changed to 1400 GMT. Contact Kevin Pilz for more information. 

RHInterchange: During this month’s Kampala International Conference on Family Planning, the RHI gave a presentation on users and uses of its data. In addition, they hosted a booth at the Technology Café and facilitated a lunch roundtable. Participants in these activities showed considerable interest in the RHI, and it is hoped they are well on their way to becoming regular users. The RHI also received positive feedback from several established users, such as Family Health International, who cited the RHI as one of their data sources in their presentation.

Resource Mobilization and Awareness Working Group (RMA WG)

Project RMA: Project RMA partners PAI, DSW, and IPPF held a meeting on "Sexual Reproductive Health Advocacy & Research: Best Practices and Partnerships" as part of the International Conference on Family Planning in Kampala. The forty-five researchers and advocates attending the meeting discussed how to work better together in advancing reproductive health services and supplies access. Participants learned how to engage in "policy-informed research and evidence-based advocacy," as well as how to reach key audiences and impact policies. Participants looked to PAI for continued leadership in this field. For more information about the meeting, please contact Mercedes Mas de Xaxas.

Market Development Approaches Working Group (MDA WG)

Washington, DC meeting: For the second year in a row, the MDA WG held a highly successful meeting in Washington, DC. Hosted by JSI, this year’s three-day meeting was attended by approximately twenty WG members. Updates were provided on WG activities and an updated workplan was finalized, including newly refined workstreams which can be viewed on the MDA WG webpage. For more information on this meeting, please visit the MDA WG webpage, or contact Ben Light.

Meeting minutes available for review: Minutes from the June MDA WG meetings are now available for review, and can be downloaded here. Please send comments to Ben Light or Steve Kinzett by 15 January.

Upcoming Events
1-2 Dec SSWG Meeting, Copenhagen
8 Dec MDA WG Teleconference
9 - 11 Dec Virtual Discussion of Whole Market Approaches. Click here for more information.
6 Jan CAR Teleconference
7 Jan MDA WG Teleconference
6 - 8 Jan AHEAD Training (Advancing Healthy Advocacy for Reproductive Health) Burkina Faso, sponsored by DSW in cooperation with Equilibres & Population
27 Jan CAR Teleconference
24 - 28 May Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition Annual Membership Meeting, Kampala, Uganda

For more details on the above and other events, see the events calendar on the Coalition website.

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