The issue: why focus on life-saving commodities


NYHQ2010-2319 A health worker sits beside a box of oral rehydration salts (ORS) in Mokolo Health Centre, in the northern village of Mokolo, Cameroon. ©UNICEF/Bouvet


Millions of women and children die every year from preventable causes. Affordable, effective medicines and basic health supplies too often fail to reach the women and children who need them most.

The cost of these medicines is not the main factor: medicines for the prevention of bleeding after childbirth and treatment of diarrhoea and pneumonia for example, such as oral rehydration solution and zinc and amoxicillin cost less than 50 cents per treatment — and can make the difference between life and death for mothers and their babies.

The most common barriers responsible for this are an insufficient supply of high quality health commodities and products where they are most needed; an inability to effectively regulate the quality of these products; and lack of knowledge of and access to information about them.