Presentation at the Global Maternal Newborn Health Conference, October 20, 2015
The success of key interventions for maternal and newborn health depends upon the continuous availability of essential medicines and supplies at health facilities. Reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health (RMNCH) experts agree that the paucity of data necessary to estimate program needs for these health products is a major factor contributing to the lack of commodity availability. To achieve maternal and newborn health goals, the UN Commission recommended improving the supply of essential RMNCH commodities. The technical experts implementing this recommendation developed a guidance tool to improve the quantification capacity of national program managers for the 13 UN Commission life-saving products, including three maternal health medicines and four newborn commodities. The guidance information package consists of (1) an overview on forecasting and supply planning, (2) forecasting algorithms for each of the 13 commodities describing special considerations to take into account, and (3) recommended tools to facilitate quantification of these commodities. Additional technical experts were consulted on developing the forecasting algorithms. The guidance was validated in five countries: Nigeria, Tanzania, India, Bangladesh, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In all cases, the guidance helped program managers to generate more evidence-based forecasts and supply plans. In the DRC in 2012, only 537,912 ampoules of oxytocin were procured for distribution nationally. Using the quantification guidance in 2014, the need for 2,987,218 ampoules was highlighted. The guidance allows country programs to gain a better understanding of the quantities of essential products needed nationally—a crucial piece of information to support advocacy and to enable forecasting and supply planning to promote continuous availability of the 13 essential commodities. Evidence-based quantification improves access to the life-saving commodities that women and their babies need to reduce morbidity and mortality.