Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition
|Focus||Reproductive health supplies, Reproductive Health, Maternal Health, Family Planning, Global Health|
|John Townsend, Chair
John Skibiak, Director
The Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition is a global partnership of public, private and non-governmental organizations. Its aim is to ensure that all people in low- and middle-income countries can choose, obtain and use the supplies and appropriate services they need to safeguard their reproductive health. Since 2004, the Coalition has been part of international efforts to secure reproductive health supplies by increasing resources, strengthening systems, and building effective partnerships .
Since the 1970s, the international community has worked on providing access to the supplies and equipment needed to deliver quality reproductive health services in the developing world. In the early years, that engagement was largely financial and technical, focused in particular on effective supply chain management. By the late 1990s waning interest within the international donor community coupled with weak commitment by countries prompted many to see sustained access to reproductive health supplies as depending as much on effective advocacy as on purely technical support. Alarmed at the prospect of significant funding shortfalls, stakeholders from around the world met in 2001 in Istanbul at a conference entitled "Meeting the Challenge". This conference was the starting point for a coordinated global reproductive health supplies movement. In 2003 the Supply Initiative was established as a coordinating mechanism. In 2004 12 organizations, mostly donors from the public and non-governmental sectors, established the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition. Their aim was to foster better coordination and collaboration in such areas as global advocacy, resource mobilization, and supply chain strengthening. By the end of 2011 the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition included 155 member organizations, among them developing country governments, international and national non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations, technical agencies, bilateral donors, multilateral organizations, private foundations, regional bodies, and manufacturers. In 2011, 360 participants from 56 countries gathered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to mark the 10th anniversary of Meeting the Challenge and raise the international profile of reproductive health commodity security.
Reproductive health supplies
Reproductive health supplies refer to any material or consumable needed to provide reproductive health (RH) services. This includes contraceptives for family planning, drugs to treat sexually transmitted infections, and equipment such as that used for safe delivery.
More specialized definitions of RH supplies have also been formulated. One of these is WHO's Interagency List of Essential Medicines for Reproductive Health (2006), which reflects the current international consensus on essential medicines for the provision of quality RH services. Because the list prioritizes medicines believed to address the most pressing public health problems, it is by definition, selective. Nonetheless, it does include a broad range of contraceptives, drugs to prevent and treat sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS, and medicines to ensure healthy pregnancy and delivery. The Interagency List is a subset of the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines, updated every two years since 1977. The 17th edition of the Essentials Medicines List (EML) was last published in 2011. To assist countries who formulate their own lists of essential RH supplies, based on local needs, the Coalition partners WHO, UNFPA and PATH published the Essential Medicines for Reproductive Health: Guiding Principles for their inclusion on National Medicines Lists (2006) .
Threats to reproductive health commodity security
Worldwide, the availability of reproductive health (RH) supplies, including contraceptives, medicines for prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS, and medicines to ensure healthy pregnancy and delivery, falls short of current demands. No single set of factors can fully explain this reality, but the three factors are of particular significance:
- Limited resources: The demand for reproductive health supplies is greater than ever and with the share of development assistance dropping, ensuring adequate donor resources has become critical to meeting the supply challenge.
- Inadequate systems: With more responsibilities brought by a shift towards greater country ownership of the development process, it is more and more difficult to find a way through an environment that is more and more complex.
- Lack of coordination: Coordination and harmonization of tools at the global level are necessary to combat against resource shortfalls and failing to make the most of existing resources. Global political will and advocacy are critical to give priority to reproductive health.
The Coalition pursues four strategic activities:
- Advocacy: The Coalition creates awareness for reproductive health supplies through communication and the dissemination of information and an effort to engage the support of key supply stakeholders.
- Collaboration: As a partnership of supplies stakeholders, the Coalition serves as a sounding board for debate and discussion, as a platform for identifying common ground among sometimes divergent interests, and as a catalyst for joint actions.
- Innovation: The Coalition’s members and partners serve as a "brain trust" of best practices and technical skills, as a source of inspiration for new ideas, and as channels for disseminating knowledge.
- Technical solutions: The Coalition aims at laying the groundwork for better supply chain systems.
Working Groups and other mechanisms for collaboration
Three Working Groups are the principal vehicles through which Coalition members collaborate.
The Market Development Approaches (MDA) Working Group contributes to the goal of reproductive health supply security through a greater focus on the "total market", which includes the private and commercial sectors.
The Advocacy and Accountability (A&A WG) Working Group (formerly known as Resource Mobilization and Awareness Working Group RMA WG) contributes to the health and well-being of all individuals by ensuring they have access to RH commodities they want when they need them.
The Systems Strengthening Working Group aims to strengthen the global, regional, and country systems needed to ensure a reliable and predictable supply of RH commodities, primarily in the public sector.
In addition to the Working Groups the Coalition includes fora and caucuses dedicated to maternal health and New and Underused Reproductive Health Technologies as well as regional fora for Latin America Foro Latinoamericano y del Caribe para el Aseguramiento de insumos de SR or LAC Forum and Francophone Africa Sécurité Contraceptive en Afrique Francophone SECONAF.
Innovation Fund , made possible by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation makes available over US$2 million to enable member organizations to undertake activities in line with their Working Group’s objectives, which would be otherwise unfunded.
AccessRH In 2010, UNFPA’s Procurement Services Branch launched AccessrH, a procurement mechanism aimed at improving customer access to affordable, high-quality contraceptives with favorable delivery terms. In December 2010, AccessrH placed its first order for 23.8 million condoms.
RHInterchange is a free, web-based tool that provides accurate information on past, present, and future supply orders for over 144 countries.
Supplies Information Database (SID)  is an online reference library with over 6,000 records on the status of reproductive health supplies at country-level. The library includes studies, assessments and other publications dating back to 1986, many of which are no longer available even in their country of origin.
Coordinated Assistance for RH Supplies (CARhs) CARhs  brings together the world’s commodity suppliers to address short-term supply crises. Through electronic data-sharing members identify existing or potential supply shortages and develop solutions. Between October 2009 and September 2010 CARhs addressed 184 separate supply crises and in the instances in which stock levels had dropped below minimal requirements, CARhs averted a stockout, either by issuing new shipments or providing policy advice. In 2010, such remedial efforts drove the procurement of more than $8.7 million in reproductive health commodities.
SupplyPromises.org  is a commitments compendium that provides access to more than 137 commitments referencing RH supplies, from countries as well as development partners including the private sector, foundations, and NGOs. Developed under the Coalition’s Commitments Initiative, the tool will go a long way towards increasing transparency, documenting and analyzing the commitments made to RH supplies during the past decade. It provides an easily accessible, at-a-glance repository for researchers, activists, civil society, indeed anybody interested in tracing promises made by governments on reproductive health supplies. Search fields include searches by partners, initiatives, and the year and type of commitment.
John Townsend, Chair, Population Council
Gloria Asare, Ghana Health Service
Ian Askew, Population Council
Emma Iriarte, Inter-American Development Bank
Jotham Musinguzi, Partners in Population and Development, Uganda
Sarah Onyango, IPPF
Leslie Patykewich, John Snow, Inc
Frank Roijmans, i+solutions
Francois Sow, French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs
John Skibiak, Director, Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition
Jagdish Upadhyay, UNFPA
More than 215 million women who wish to protect themselves from unintended and potentially unsafe pregnancy do not have access to modern contraception. In 2010, the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition established the HANDtoHAND Campaign with the goal of reaching 100 million additional users of modern contraception by 2015. Reaching this goal will meet the family planning needs of 80 percent of women in low- and middle-income countries. It will mean 96 million fewer unintended pregnancies, 54 million fewer abortions, 110,000 fewer mothers dying in pregnancy and childbirth, and 1.4 million fewer infant deaths. The Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition is leading the effort by urging stakeholders in both the public and private sectors to commit resources and support to reach this goal. At the September United Nations Summit on the Millennium Development Goals in New York, AusAID, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Dfid and USAID adopted the 100 million metric as a cornerstone of their International Alliance for Reproductive, Maternal and Newborn Health.
- International Conference on Population and Development
- Maternal Health
- Reproductive Health
- Reproductive rights
- Birth Control
- Family Planning
- Infant Mortality
- International Planned Parenthood Federation
- United Nations Population Fund
- Female Condom
- Contraceptive Projections and the Donor Gap (April 2001). Interim Working Group on Reproductive Health Commodity Security. ISBN 1-889735-09-4.
- globalpost "Contraceptives boost for poor countries" by Tristan McConnell, June 24, 2011 http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/africa-emerges/contraceptives-boost-poor-countries
- Kaiser Family Foundation "Conference Examines Family Planning Benefits For Health" June 24, 2011 http://globalhealth.kff.org/Daily-Reports/2011/June/24/GH-062411-Reproductive-Health-Conference.aspx
- Reprodictive Health Supplies Coalition "Reproductive Health Commodity Security: Leading from behind to forge a global movement" by Julie Solo (2011) http://www.rhsupplies.org/fileadmin/user_upload/Access/JulieSolo.pdf
- ERTA News "Ethiopia endeavoring to improve RH services" 22 June 2011 http://www.ertagov.com/erta/erta-news-archive/38-erta-tv-hot-news-addis-ababa-ethiopia/743-moh-ethiopia-endeavoring-to-improve-rh-services-.html
- World Health Organization (WHO) "The interagency list of essential medicines for reproductive health" (2006) by Department of Reproductive Health and Research and Department of Medicines Policy and Standards http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/general/RHR_2006_1/en/
- World Health Organization (WHO) "Model Lists of Essential Medicines"; 17th WHO Essential Medicines List and the 3rd WHO Essential Medicines List for Children updated in March 2011 http://www.who.int/medicines/publications/essentialmedicines/en
- IPS "Another Push for Reproductive Rights" by Pam Johnson, June 17, 2011 http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=56134
- World Health Organization (WHO), Reproductive Health Essential Medicines "Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition supports AccessRH" http://www.who.int/rhem/didyouknow/rhsc/accessrh/en/index.html
- Official homepage of AccessRH http://www.myaccessrh.org/
- Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition "Annual report 2010" http://www.rhsupplies.org/fileadmin/user_upload/Annual_Report/ARFinal.pdf
- Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition "Executive Committee" http://www.rhsupplies.org/about-us/who-we-are/executive-committee.html
- UNFPA "On 100th International Women’s Day, UNFPA Promotes Campaign to Put Contraceptive Choices in 100 Million Women’s Hands" 08 March 2011 http://www.unfpa.org/public/cache/offonce/home/news/pid/7361;jsessionid=059FAF7532AE014FB206B84586886B0C
- USAID "International Alliance For Reproductive, Maternal, and Newborn Health" September 22, 2010 http://www.usaid.gov/our_work/global_health/pop/alliance.html