Supplies and Logistics

Supplier's Meeting Focuses on Access to Medicines for Children

© UNICEF/ HQ05-1719/Niclas Ryberg
PAKISTAN: A man holds his two-year-old son, Ifrat, and medicine to treat the child, at a basic health unit set up in the Thuri Park camp for people displaced by the earthquake in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

Supplier's Meeting Focuses on Access to Medicines for Children
October 2008

Paediatric medicines and quality assurance of pharmaceuticals were two key areas presented to 75 suppliers and partner organizations at the UNICEF Pharmaceutical Suppliers Meeting hosted at Supply Division headquarters in Copenhagen in October 2008. The main objective of the meeting was to find out how we can work better together and maintain good communication with manufacturers.  It was an opportunity to share UNICEF’s business processes and priorities, and to create a forum to discuss how UNICEF and the pharmaceutical sector can work together.

The overall theme of the two-day workshop was ‘Medicines for Children’ and the efforts to develop pharmaceutical products specifically for children. Supply Division HIV/AIDS & Health Centre Chief, Francisco Blanco, said the focus was in line with World Health Organization (WHO) issuing for the first time a List of Essential Medicines for Children in 2007.

“WHO made a presentation to suppliers about the Medicines for Children campaign which is actively supported by UNICEF. The objective is to come up with products that can be taken by children in appropriate dosages. At the moment, many of the medicines are in liquid form and children’s dosages are calculated as a portion of the adult dose. There is limited clinical testing and dosage delivery is mostly guesswork,” Francisco said.

“The goal is to have a better definition of children’s dosages for essential medicines, as well as technological advancement in the development of medicine’s for children. “Our hope is to create awareness amongst the manufacturers about the need, to discuss the role they can play and to guide them in the steps that are being taken to make progress in this area.”

Another focus at the meeting was the increased requirements by donor countries for quality products and quality assurance measures. “We have always maintained a high quality standard when assessing products and manufacturers, but this is increasingly becoming an important focus for donors as well,” Francisco added. Many of the suppliers expressed that the knowledge-sharing about quality requirements would definitely help them to improve the quality of existing and new pharmaceutical products.

Other topics covered over the two days were nutrition products for children, including Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Foods which are proving successful in the battle against severe acute malnutrition,  the ongoing development of zinc products  for fighting acute diarrhoea which kills 1.5 million children each year,  and malaria medicines for children.

Millennium Development Goal 4, a two-third decrease in the under-five mortality rate by 2015, and MDG 5, a three quarter reduction in maternal mortality by the same target year, are key drivers in UNICEF’s partnership with suppliers for better health and nutrition products for women and children. 

“Overall I think that there is a healthy respect between UNICEF and manufacturers. They respect how we do business and together we recognise that open communication and collaboration are essential elements to meeting the health needs of mothers and children the world over”, Francisco said.

For more information, and the presentations given during the suppliers meeting, please visit the supplier's meeting web page.



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