India is now the top global source of affordable medical supplies to the international body Unicef. India topped the list of suppliers by providing medicines and other healthcare items worth $741 million to Unicef programmes, beating Belgium ($456 m), France ($204 m) and the US ($497 m). Other countries from where procurement exceeded $10 million include UK, Iraq, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Chad, and Germany among others. According to the ‘Supply Annual Report 2015’, Unicef’s impact and reach is only possible through partnerships. Combined strengths allow for coordinated interventions, streamlined processes and targeted investments to tackle inequalities, bridge gaps and build long-term sustainability. Major pharma companies and medical suppliers including Ajanta Pharma, Aurobindo Pharma, Bafna Pharmaceuticals, Cadila Pharma, Cipla, FDC, Mylan Labs, Piramal Enterprises, Ranbaxy Labs, Simaxo Chemicals, Sun Pharma Industries, played a major role in India attaining the top position, the report said. Strong and efficient health supply chains are the backbone for delivering essential supplies for children; products that are critical in meeting global targets to reduce under-five mortality and end hunger, it said.
Unicef continued to work closely with governments and partners in 2015 to strengthen national health supply chains. Technical assistance and ongoing dialogue with a number of governments is helping address supply chain issues, overcome challenges in national supply chains and develop capacity for sustainable change, stated the report. Additionally, government delegations to supply division from Ethiopia and Nepal in 2015, provided opportunities for in-depth discussions on procurement and supply chain issues, and helped identify opportunities for further improving health outcomes.
Unicef remains one of the largest buyers of supplies for children, and in 2015 procured over $3.4 billion in supplies and services. At the same time, the international agency responded to increased requests from governments for technical expertise, knowledge sharing and collaboration to optimise supply chains, prevent stock-outs, reduce costs and ensure timely delivery. The report states that the international organisation uses evidence based strategies that focus on competition, transparency, special financing, special contracting and partner collaboration to tackle market issues to achieve value for money, sustainability and meet demand.
In September 2015, world leaders committed to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a renewed global push, between now and 2030, to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice and address climate change. The 17 SDGs include goals that are specific to the health and well-being of children and adolescents. Access to affordable, high-quality vaccines, medicines, water and sanitation and education supplies are critical to realising the SDGs. As an intergovernmental organisation, Unicef procurement is governed by Unicef’s financial regulations and rules. These provide a framework to ensure competition, fair treatment, and transparency and safeguard donor funds.
Within this framework, Unicef has developed and expanded a number of financing interventions to keep pace with the demand for essential life-saving commodities for children. Financing interventions are becoming increasingly important in light of economic transformations affecting countries where a majority of the world’s most disadvantaged children live.
Changes in the flow of official development assistance (ODA) from donor countries to receiving governments and multilateral institutions, and the availability of concessional loans, present challenges and opportunities for economies moving from low-income to middle-income status. Alongside efforts to establish agile, resilient supply chains, Unicef supply continued to respond to the needs of children caught in crisis and conflict throughout 2015. The supply emergency response reached children in Burundi, the Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Guinea, Iraq, Liberia, Malawi, Nepal, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Syria and Vanuatu.