Monday, February 20, 2012

UNICEF: Increasing access to life-saving supplies for children helps save US$735 million by 2015

UNICEF said today an innovative campaign to increase the availability and accessibility of life-saving supplies for children would generate savings and cost avoidances of US$735 million for UNICEF, partners and governments between 2011 and 2015.

It said price reductions by industry, special financing from partners and influencing markets allowed every dollar supporting children’s health to go much further than before.

“Partners and industry bring their strengths to the table to ensure life-saving supply items are available and affordable,” said Shanelle Hall, Director of the UNICEF Supply Division, which is based in Copenhagen, Denmark.

“Core to our work is establishing and sustaining healthy markets where a broadly-based range of suppliers make high-impact products at the quantity and quality required,” she added. “A main challenge is to ensure that new products, such as new vaccines, are accessible to middle income countries at more affordable prices.”

The savings and cost avoidances follow dramatic gains in child mortality rates over the past decade. UNICEF reported in 2011 that the number of children under the age of five years who die every year had dropped from 12 million in 1990 to 7.6 million in 2010. 

The decade-long saving campaign aims to support the creation of sustainable markets that increase the availability of essential supplies for the well-being of children. It includes economies of scale, expanding the number of suppliers, price transparency, forecasting demand to industry, ensuring steady order placement through innovative financing, strategic order placement to encourage new entrants to markets, supporting suppliers to meet quality standards and identifying areas for potential new production innovation.

In line with UNICEF’s commitment to ensure healthy markets, UNICEF last year published a list of prices that it paid for vaccines, therapeutic food, and mosquito nets.  Pricing transparency helps inform government decisions and makes the market more efficient.   

The rotavirus vaccine, which combats one of the causes of diarrhoea – the second largest killer of children under the age of five, will be introduced in over 40 countries over the next five years. Special financing from the GAVI Alliance enabled UNICEF to undertake a massive procurement that saw the market price of US$15 per course drop to as low as the EURO equivalent of US$4.93.

Compared to 2010 prices, rotavirus vaccine procurement from 2011 to 2016 will save some US$498 million.
Polio has declined by 90 per cent worldwide since the global polio eradication programme began in 1988. New formulations of oral polio vaccine that target virulent strains of polio virus are helping to bring remaining endemic countries much closer to zero transmission.

Concerted efforts by UNICEF and polio eradication partners have helped keep suppliers from leaving the market too early. In 2010, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation committed US$310 million to support polio vaccine procurement. This helped to drive down the price of the polio vaccine in 2010, and will save about $60 million in 2011 and 2012.

Efficient production and competitive prices offered by emerging market suppliers resulted in price drops for other vaccines. In the next two years, procurement of pentavalent vaccine – a five-in-one shot that protects children from diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae type B – will result in US$153 million saved or avoided.

Collaboration with the African Leaders Malaria Alliance, the Global Fund, the Roll-Back Malaria Partnership, UNITAID, the UN Special Envoy for Malaria, the UN Development Programme, USAID, and the World Bank has transformed the mosquito net industry. 

There are now 12 suppliers meeting standards recommended by the World Health Organization for bed net quality and effectiveness – compared to only one 10 years ago.

In 2011, the price of the most commonly procured net dropped below $4 per unit for the first time – achieving savings of more than US$8.6 million compared to 2010.

A forecast further reduction of prices in 2012 and in future years will save US$15 million. Additional efforts to improve value for money will include durability tests so prices paid are also assessed in terms of the shelf-life of bed net so future costs can be avoided.

Ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) faced record demand in 2011 in response to the famine crisis in the Horn of Africa – 75 per cent of UNICEF’s supply response was nutrition assistance. Expert organisations such as Medicines Sans Frontières and the World Food Programme enabled local producers to meet international standards and boost supply.

In six years, the supplier base for RUTF expanded from one to 19. Since 2010 larger suppliers have reduced their per-carton price by up to 8 per cent.

About UNICEFUNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit:
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For further information, please contact:
Sally Sadie Singhateh, UNICEF Gambia, Tel: +220 4494786; Mobile: +220 3360083;
Joan Howe, UNICEF Supply Division, NY, Mobile: +45 29 65 71 94

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