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Sana’a, Yemen (2015) — Almigdad Mojalli/VOA

LAPTOP Scholar Wadhah Hubaishi goes head-to-head with supply chain failure in war-torn Yemen

How do supply chain systems run smoothly across countries are torn apart by instability, like Yemen? In large part, due to committed supply chain professionals like Wadhah Hubaishi, one of the RHSC’s LAPTOP Scholars.

“In a commercial context, the worst impact of an inefficient supply chain is probably financial loss, but when a medical or humanitarian supply chain fails, the consequence can be as dire as the loss of lives,” he says. “It was a sobering realization which gave me a renewed sense of urgency and drive in my work.”

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When Wadhah received a scholarship for a Certification in Humanitarian Supply Chain Management at the Logistics Learning Alliance in 2014, he held the post of Deputy Country Director for the USAID | DELIVER PROJECT in Yemen. When he completed his training, the penny dropped for him. The unique course took him step by step through the planning, design, operation, and coordination of a virtual supply chain system across multiple geographical locations. What he learned had immediate effect on his daily work, contributing to a study mapping the procurement process of contraceptive and reproductive health commodities between the Ministry of Health and its donors. The study had to identify common and recurring bottlenecks in the process, making several recommendations to optimize and shorten the procurement process. In another instance, his studies made it easier for him to supervise and execute a nationwide rollout of a multi-tiered logistics training program that raised the supply chain management capacity for 1,279 Ministry of Health service providers across 9 Yemeni governorates. …


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In Clemence Matsika’s world, supply chains make a difference between life and death. Zimbabwe is a country heavily dependent on imports of food, medicines, and infrastructure, Matsika explains, and this high dependency on imports presented a terrible challenge in March 2019 when Cyclone Idai hit. Idai is, to date, one of the worst tropical cyclones to affect Africa and the Southern Hemisphere, causing catastrophic damage and a humanitarian crisis in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi, leaving more than 1,300 people dead and many more missing.

Idai is one of the worst tropical cyclones to have hit Africa

“We were too lax,” Matsika remembers. “We were not prepared enough, and we expected the cyclone would have become less severe by the time it hit Zimbabwe. But it rained for 24 hours, and the mudslides and flash floods swept some villages away, and completely buried others. We still haven’t recovered all the bodies; many were swept away in the floods,” he says. …


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Why timely contraceptive orders are critical, especially in these troubled times.

Last month, the RHSC’s Latin America and Caribbean Forum (ForoLAC) received a desperate call. A country in the region was nearly stocked out of two-rod contraceptive implants and needed 100,000 units urgently. The scramble that followed raised the curtain on an ominous reality: lead production times for many contraceptive products are at an all-time high.

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General production times for a new Male Condom, Generic Implant and Emergency Contraception

The numbers are sobering. In a webinar ForoLAC hosted recently, UNFPA Procurement Specialist Mónica Lay levelled with those who had tuned in. Production time for a new generic implant is currently 32–36 weeks. Male condoms are taking four months to produce. Emergency contraception 12 months. …


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How misperceptions of the manufacturing sector do no favours for contraceptive access

By Brian McKenna, Deputy Director, RHSC

The contraceptive procurement space is not in the best of health. In recent months, we witnessed the impact of COVID-19 on virtually all aspects of supply chains. But even before that, for various reasons, demand was far outstripping supply for key contraceptive products. Over at least the next two years, supply shortfalls are expected to continue across many low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

All is not well, but why?

While a variety of reasons may exist, scratch beneath the surface and it becomes evident that, even prior to the pandemic, the business case was becoming increasingly less sound for sustained engagement by those who rely on access pricing (the reduced prices offered for the purpose of significantly expanding contraceptive access in LMICs). The opportunity costs of investing in these sectors are growing, and the rules of engagement are becoming more burdensome. The return on investment, compared to other investments a company might make, are becoming less certain. All of this is occurring in a dynamic environment in which pharmaceutical manufacturers are shifting strategically and operationally to thrive in the competitive twenty-first century landscape. …


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Sara Stratton (Co-Chair - Advocacy and Accountability Working Group/RHSC), Nene Fofana-Cissé (Chair - SECONAF/RHSC), Charlotte Soulary (Advocacy & European Network Officer/RHSC), Nora Quesada (Chair - ForoLAC/RHSC)

Tomorrow is World Contraception Day, a day on which our community has habitually celebrated progress, highlighted ongoing needs, and reminded world leaders of their commitments to achieve zero unmet need for family planning by 2030.

Indeed, in recent years there have been improvements in technology and in access, in supply chain visibility, and in the accountability and commitment of governments to universal access to reproductive health (RH) products.

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But today, we share with you our grave concern. The COVID-19 pandemic has hit contraceptive access hard. …


By Charlotte Soulary, Advocacy Officer, Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition

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“Many challenges existed before the COVID-19 crisis, in particular the difficulty to access menstrual products in rural areas. But the crisis has exacerbated these pre-existing challenges.”

COVID-19 has seriously compromised access to menstrual health materials.

From a supply perspective, the RHSC and our members face three main challenges: (1) a disrupted production of supplies, (2) many interruptions throughout the supply chains, and (3) delayed or failed product delivery. Production is disrupted due to reduced workforce at manufacturing plants because of social distancing requirements for factories; closure of factories; and the fact that production of personal protective equipment has taken priority for many small manufacturers. Supply chain interruptions are a result of grounded commercial flights; many ports not functioning at full capacity; and slots reallocated to emergency equipment shipments. The same disruptions have been observed at the country entry point: in countries where imports were/are restricted, it is challenging both for menstrual products and for raw materials for disposable pads. Road transport restrictions have constrained distribution in some countries, disrupting distribution at the last mile, as many retailers/distributors have paused normal retail operations. Lastly, product delivery is also often interrupted, when grocery and other shops are closed and delivery staff under lockdown. …


The story of the RHInterchange

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In the face of supply chain disruptions resulting from the current COVID-19 pandemic, the family planning community has turned to RHSC’s data sources for more clarity. The Global FP VAN, for example, provides insight into product flows and also the relative risk of supply chain disruptions. The VAN’s public-access dashboards — RHViz — allow the analysis of $2.17 billion worth of contraceptive orders and shipments. The recent inauguration of RHViz embodies a principle of data sharing and a collaborative spirit which take their inspiration from the very creation of the RHSC.

For more than a decade, Coalition partners have worked together to forge innovative tools the community needs to understand the reproductive health supplies market better and make informed decisions. One of the earliest such tools was the groundbreaking RHInterchange, born of the vision of a few key stakeholders whose spirit and ethos inform much of what we see in the VAN. Today, we speak to a few RHInterchange stalwarts who helped shape RHSC’s role in data provision over the years. They identify the unique collaborative ethos that has stood the RHSC in good stead for nearly two decades.


by John P Skibiak, Director, Reproductive Health supplies Coalition

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The old saying goes “no product, no program”. The Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition was established over a decade and a half ago for that very purpose: to ensure access to a range of affordable, quality assured supplies.

But the phrase “no product, no program” rests on certain fundamental assumptions — not the least of which is the capacity of programs to deliver services. In many ways, COVID is calling that assumption into question. …


By John Skibiak, Director, Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition

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Photo: Tim Mossholder/Unsplash

Today sees the launch of a report providing the world’s most comprehensive analysis on gender equality and the distribution of power and privilege in global health. We at the RHSC are delighted that our organization has been listed as a High Scorer in this year’s Global Health 50/50 Gender and Health Index, performing in the top 20% of the sample of 200 organisations active in the global health sector.

The 2020 Index covers four dimensions:

1. Commitment to gender equality

2. Gender equality and diversity policies at work

3. Gender and geography of global health leadership

4. Gender-responsiveness of health policies and…


A Regional Menace in Latin America

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Random Institute / Unsplash

“Child, Early and Forced Marriage” is a term that refers in particular to marriages and unions that take place before the age of 18. In the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) region, the word “union” occurs frequently alongside the term “marriage”. It is used to reflect informal relationship agreements, neither documented nor recognized by the Church or the State. The informality of these unions in LAC makes it difficult to account for them or collect sufficient data to evidence this issue; it is difficult to call them out as a blatant violation of the human rights of adolescent girls.

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Child marriage and early unions mainly impact girls living in poor, rural, uneducated homes. Indeed, the highest proportion of marriages and unions in LAC involve adolescent girls, more often than not to men who are significantly older, more educated, and richer, compounding power inequities that subordinate these girls. Unfortunately, gender violence is not an uncommon occurrence in such situations. …

About

Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition (RHSC)

We are the world’s largest network of reproductive health supplies organizations. http://www.rhsupplies.org/

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