Sharing the Compass

Charting the way through COVID-19 and reproductive health supplies

Over the last two years, COVID-19 response efforts around the globe evolved from a reactive crisis management phase to periods marked by great adaptation. Unfortunately, finding “new normal” footing has been hindered by supply chain disruptions across industries, economic inflation, and other socioeconomic consequences. Now, with new waves of the pandemic yet again moving across the globe, it seems an appropriate time for members of the RH community to reassemble — reflecting on what we have learned thus far and taking action to help ensure a stronger RH supplies ecosystem in the future.

In the first few months of 2021, you may recall that John Snow, Inc. (JSI) and Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition launched Building resilient sexual and reproductive health supply chains during COVID-19 and beyond: a community roadmap for action and technical findings. This assessment was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; it sought to understand and document the end-to-end supply chain impacts of the pandemic for reproductive health (RH) products in low- and middle-income countries.

The Roadmap contains a series of broad, far-reaching recommendations in the areas of RH product markets, financing, supply chain strategies, policies, stewardship, and data. We recognize that the Roadmap’s list of recommendations is long, and that many of our members are already engaged in efforts to implement portions of the recommendations. Indeed, some of the ideas are long-standing needs in the community.

The Coalition stands ready to do its part. We are pleased to launch a new initiative: Compass — Charting the Way Ahead. This initiative builds upon the Roadmap’s analysis and findings, helping to point the way, despite the uncertainties of the pandemic, towards greater access to RH supplies with an approach consistent with our values of availability, quality, equity, and choice. Through Compass, we will focus on four priority recommendations from the Roadmap report, which we intend to support in various ways in the coming months.

Why did we select these four priority recommendations? We selected them in part because they offer the following:

  • An integrity and history beyond the pandemic
  • Potential for a broad array of follow-on activities that we might support
  • Resonance with a larger and more diverse audience within the Coalition
  • Potential for linkage with high-profile events for the Coalition.

We can act on these recommendations in discrete and meaningful ways. For example, we might support in-country interventions, policy reviews, landscape assessments, etc., that further the aims of the four priority recommendations at country, regional, or global levels.

On December 9th, a webinar is scheduled to launch the 2021 Family Planning Market Report. The webinar features speakers from the Clinton Health Access Initiative, Family Planning 2030, and the Coalition. It presents an opportunity for challenging some of the assumptions underlying the argument that procurement of RH supplies is under threat in today’s COVID-dominated world. It will coincidentally help lay the groundwork for the Compass initiative’s priority recommendation: managing the competition for scarce resources in a COVID-centric world.

In the coming weeks and months, we look forward to sharing more information with you on our intentions for the Compass initiative. We will seek out opportunities to discuss the four priority recommendations with members through our various working groups and caucuses. We are eager, as well, to meet with individual member organizations, to explore how we can work together to act on recommendations, thus helping our community better understand the current challenges we face and to identify solutions for us all.

For more information about this initiative, please contact Safia Ahsan at sahsan@rhsupplies.org

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Official blog of the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition (RHSC)

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