|UNICEF Supply Annual Report Highlights
Medical Products Access and Innovation
UNICEF recently released its Supply Annual Report for 2012. The Report is an yearly assessment of the UNICEF supply programme which provides women and children with an equitable access to life-saving supplies. The UNICEF Supply Division recently moved its base to Copenhagen, Denmark with a state of the art warehouse to ensure timely reach of life-saving supplies all over the world. Its activities in influencing markets, innovation and supporting supply chain strengthening continued apace during the year, with substantial achievements in terms of reduced prices, reduced supply chain costs and the introduction of new products. Regarding encouraging innovation, the program has several innovation projects in the pipeline. These are mainly aimed at development of low-cost diagnostic devices that make accurate diagnosis under extreme environmental conditions.
UNICEF procured $1.86 billion worth of supplies globally for children and women during the year. In addition, $608 million worth of services were procured. The major commodities procured were: vaccines, pharmaceuticals, nutrition, medical supplies and equipment, international freight, bed nets, construction, water and sanitation, education, printed educational supplies. Vaccines accounted for $1053 million, and pharmaceuticals trailed at $226 million.
India was the largest supplier country in 2012, with $558 million worth of services and supplies. Belgium came in second, contributing less than half of India’s supplies with a figure of $349 million. Serum Institute of India Ltd supplied vaccines/biologicals worth $254 million dollars, making it the largest supplier in India. Mylan Laboratries (pharma company) is at a distant second spot, with supplies worth $ 45 million. Other significant suppliers are Ranbaxy Labs, Hetero Labs, Aurobindo Pharma, Haffkine Bio-Pharmaceutical Corporation, Biological E and Micro Labs Pharma. UNICEF makes great efforts to buy supplies where they are used. Almost two-thirds of the top 33 supplier countries are countries where UNICEF has development programmes.
Close to two-thirds of the UNICEF supplies delivered went to Sub-Saharan Africa. 24% of the supplies went to Southern and Eastern Asia, and the Pacific. India absorbed commodities worth $23 million and procured services worth $52 million. India’s neighbours Pakistan and Bangladesh used supplies worth $231 million and $64 million respectively.
India has consistently been the largest supplier since 2007. UNICEF has recognised India’s contribution to glocal aid, and international groups have lauded India’s role in increasing access to medicines in the developing world. In fact, India is not only the largest supplier to UN groups, but also to the Mêdecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) and International Dispensary Association. Indian medicines are also extremely affordable. Anti RetroViral (ARV) treatment in Europe was $10,000 per patient a year, until Indian manufactured drugs brought it down to $95 patient a year. India happens to be the largest supplier of generic ARVs to low and middle income countries. Paul Cawthome (MSF Access Campaign Coordinator-Asia) highlighted the the worldwide dependency on India as a drug supplier best, when he said : ‘It comes as a great relief to millions around the world who depend on a continuous supply of Indian generic medicines that the Indian Supreme Court has ruled against Novartis.’ In another instance, when Big pharma threatened legal action against the South African government in the latter’s efforts to bring down prices for HIV-AIDS treatment, Indian pharma major Cipla stepped in and offered to supply drugs at just $350 per patient per year. This exposed inflated rates of medicines in the global market, and the case against SA government was withdrawn.
These scenarios demonstrate India’s inclination to increase global accessibility to medicines. Hopefully the efforts will also be emulated by other nations in the wake of rising healthcare costs, especially in the developed countries.