UNFPA-backed digital breakthrough to improve sexual and reproductive health services in the Pacific as world population hits 8 billion – Fiji
The world population has reached 8 billion. This is an important milestone for humanity and a moment of reflection, including for small island developing States such as the Pacific countries, because the reproductive health and rights (SRH) of women and of girls must be protected regardless of demographic trends, to enable all communities and countries to prosper.
For governments to protect the reproductive health and rights of their fellow women and girls – reaching those furthest away first and leaving no one behind – they must first know exactly who has SRH needs, what kind of SRH needs they have, where they reside and so on. This is why the availability of real-time, disaggregated and high-quality data is of crucial importance for national and local decision-makers, planners and budget makers. The same goes for the “visualization” of this data in order to facilitate its use.
To help small Pacific island countries in this endeavor, the United Nations Population Organization (UNFPA) in the Pacific has provided digital solutions. One is Tupaia, a customizable digital platform powered by Beyond Essential Systems (BES), which is now used by governments and partners across the Pacific to aggregate and visualize data regarding reproductive health services and commodities. This comes in support of UNFPA’s Supply Partnership and the UNFPA Transformative Agenda for Women Adolescents and Youth in the Pacific program funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), which has so far been implemented in six countries: Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu.
In Tupaia, data is drawn from multiple sources, including UNFPA-supported health facility readiness and service availability assessments, health facility spot checks and training data, to populate visuals showing important information for planning and budgeting for reproductive health services. Dashboards allow users at regional, national, and subnational levels to examine data, and even drill down to the facility level. Tupaia thus strengthens supply chain management and enables government officials and development practitioners to target sexual and reproductive health services and resources to areas that need them most.
Another digitization effort employed by UNFPA Pacific and governments in the region is mSupply, an electronic logistics management information system used to streamline supply chain processes throughout procurement, forecasting , warehousing, distribution and reporting.
UNFPA Pacific has set up the “UNFPA Supplier Hub” which links the mSupply system within UNFPA Pacific to the mSupply systems of the central warehouses based in Fiji, Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu. Through the UNFPA Supplier Center, countries can place orders directly with UNFPA in seconds. This digitization effort sped up the ordering process and made it easier for governments to receive and record incoming stock. The tool also calculates information such as average monthly consumption and generates reports for decision making.
Mr. Samuela Tuisavura, Director of Warehouse Operations, Fiji Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Services Center (FPBSC), Ministry of Health and Medical Services, is among many health officials in the Pacific region who are taking advantage of a variety of features and functions that the UNFPA-supported mSupply application offers. “I love the real-time data that mSupply generates to help us make decisions quickly,” Tuisavura said.
Prior to the implementation of the mSupply app, there were only four health facilities for which the ministry was able to track inventory activities, including the three departmental hospitals. In contrast, now with mSupply, logistics data becomes available even to the most remote and low-lying healthcare facilities and nursing stations.
“mSupply is not only useful to the Department of Health and Medical Services. It is beneficial to the entire population of Fiji as it helps to visualize what medical supplies are readily available now and where. mSupply is a simple, efficient and user-friendly application,” says Tuisavura. He explains the benefits and usefulness of this application, adding that “reporting items close to expiration or expired and slow-moving inventory in the warehouse took a while in the past. But with the mSupply app, it only takes me 2-3 minutes to produce. mSupply is also linked with Tupaia to allow the display of available stock information at any level of the supply chain that uses mSupply.
As the world’s population reaches 8 billion, with 2.5 million in the 14 Pacific island countries and territories served by UNFPA Pacific, the use of innovative digital solutions, such as Tupaia and mSupply, will help Pacific governments to preserve the availability and quality of sexual and reproductive services. medicines and health services, ensuring that no one is left behind. Women who have reproductive choices and access to health services are better able to pursue education, seek and keep better jobs, contribute to household income and lift families out of poverty , thereby contributing to the socio-economic development of their community and country as a whole.
“Empowering women to manage their sexual and reproductive health is an investment that benefits everyone. Therefore, investing in accurate and easily accessible information about their sexual and reproductive health and rights also benefits everyone,” says Iori Kato, UNFPA Pacific Director and Representative in Fiji.