Global tools for regional use: increasing commodities access in francophone Africa

Global tools for regional use:  increasing commodities access in francophone Africa
Health workers distribute iron supplements and deworming tablets to women and children in in the rural town of Samfya, Zambia in April 2010 © UNICEF/Nesbitt


The UN Commission for Life-Saving Commodities (UNCoLSC)Atelier d’échange: Pratiques et ressources pour améliorer l’accès aux treize produits vitaux pour la santé des femmes et des enfants took place on September 9 and 10, 2015, in Dakar, Senegal. The workshop was made possible through a collaboration with Securité Contraceptive en Afrique Francophone (SECONAF, the regional forum of the Reproductive Health Supply Chain Coalition), and followed the SECONAF Annual Meeting.

Almost 60 attendees from 16 sub-Saharan African countries, including experts implementing the recommendations of the UN Commission on Life-Saving Commodities, shared experiences implementing the tools developed by the UNCoLSC to improve access to the 13 essential medicines and related reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health (RMNCH) services . In addition to overview sessions on the UNCoLSC, and the Recommended Indicators to Address In-country Supply Chain Barriers, participants followed one of three tracks: Advocacy, Quantification, or Tools for Data Management.

The Advocacy for Life-saving Commodities for RMNCH introduced participants to the Advocacy Toolkit to Increase Access to Life-Saving Commodities, which provides resources raising awareness and engaging stakeholders in addressing commodity-related gaps in national plans, policies and initiatives, and in advancing the implementation of the UNCoLSC’s recommendations. Moreover, as one participant reported, it allowed for implementers from different countries to interact and share their experiences using different advocacy strategies.[1]

In the Quantification: Improving access to products and medicines for mother and child survival track, participants learned about forecasting and quantification techniques specifically developed for the 13 life-saving commodities. The commodity-specific focus of the workshop was very much appreciated—one participant approached me during the workshop to tell me that, although he had experience in quantification, learning the commodity-specific strategies for increasing the accuracy of forecasting for these 13 underused but extremely important commodities was invaluable.

TheImplementation of Tools for Data Management for Logistics and Health Service Delivery: CommCare Supply, DHIS2, and OpenLMIStrack was a forum to learn and exchange about automation of information systems using the tools supported by the UNCoLSC. As facilitator Roland Kyedrebeogo of Dimagi said, “This was an opportunity for participants to discover and have demos on three tools: CommCare Supply, DHIS2 and OpenLMIS. These three tools address their daily challenges, and a particular focus was put into discussing lessons learned and implementation steps for all tools.[2]”

This workshop fostered an incredibly rich and productive discussion on ways to improve access to life-saving commodities. Attendees now have access to a set of invaluable tools they can use to work towards saving and improving the lives of women and children through better access to these commodities.


[1] Participant evaluations of the workshop

[2] Facilitator evaluations of the workshop

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