United Nations Commission on Commodities for Women's and Children's Health

Too often, cost effective, high impact medicines - those that could address critical health problems such as pneumonia, diarrhea, and post-partum hemorrhage - don't reach the women and children who need them. Some of the things that stand in their way include products that are unaffordable, formulations that are not appropriate for children, weak supply chains, inadequate regulatory capacity, and poor awareness of how, why, and when to use the commodities.

Recent experience shows that it is possible to overcome many of these barriers, even in the most deprived communities. Drawing on these successes, the United Nations has established the Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children to champion the effort globally. The commission builds on the 2010 Global Strategy for Women's and Children's Health, which identified a pressing need for increased access to and appropriate use of medicines and other health commodities in order to achieve the health-related Millennium Development Goals.

This project supports the commission to advocate at the highest levels for building consensus on priority actions that increase women's and children's access and use of critical health commodities. Specifically, IDRC is supporting the participation of five non-industry commissioners from developing countries. The project will also support three country case studies conducted by Southern-based researchers that will inform the commission's recommendations. These studies will assess bottlenecks to availability, affordability, accessibility, and rational use of the selected essential commodities, giving attention to improving access to maternal and newborn health commodities within an equitable health system.

IDRC's support will ensure that issues and viewpoints from these parts of the world are addressed and improve the understanding of and solutions for health systems, governance, and equity. The case studies and the commission's recommendations will be presented at high-level advocacy forums such as the UN, African Union, and G20 meetings. By engaging with high-level officials in the public and private sectors and providing evidence, the project expects to translate technical knowledge into political action.

Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Sunday, April 1, 2012

End Date

Sunday, December 1, 2013


14 months

IDRC Officer

Mhatre, Sharmila

Total funding

CA$ 265,500


Maternal and Child Health

Project Leader

Dr Renee Van de Weerdt

Project Leader

Dr Mickey Chopra


United Nations Children's Fund

Institution Country

United States

Institution Website