Life-Saving Commodities

To Save Over 6 Million Lives

life-saving-commodities28-year old health technician Bouchara Akdariss checks in with a patient at the UNICEF-supported district hospital in Ouellesebougou, Mali on November 29th, 2012.
© UNICEF/MLIA2012-00738/Bindra  
With a strong focus on the reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health (RMNCH) 'Continuum of Care', the Commission identified and endorsed an initial list of 13 overlooked life-saving commodities that, if more widely accessed and properly used, could save the lives of more than 6 million women and children.

Reproductive Health

Female Condoms - used for Family Planning & Contraception
Impants - used for Family Planning & Contraception
Emergency Contraception - used for Family Planning & Contraception

Maternal Health

Oxytocin - used for treatment of Post-partum Hemorrhage 
Misoprostol - used for treatment of Post-partum Hemorrhage
Magnesium Sulfate - used for treatment of Eclampsia & Severe Pre-Eclampsia/Toxemia of Pregnancy

Newborn Health

Injectable Antibiotics - used for treatment of Newborn Sepsis 
Antenatal Corticosteroids (ANCS) - used for treatment of Respiratory Distress Syndrome for preterm babies
Chlorhexidine - used for Newborn Cord Care
Resuscitation Equipment - used for treatment of Newborn Asphxia

Child Health

Amoxicillin - used for treatment of Pneumonia
Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) - used for treatment of Diarrhea
Zinc - used for treatment of Diarrhea


The Commission looked at three criteria to identify these commodities:
  1. High-impact, effective commodities. In general, high-impact commodities are those commodities that effectively address avoidable causes of premature death and disease among children under five years old and women during pregnancy and childbirth.
  2. Inadequate funding. Selected commodities are not funded by existing mechanisms such as The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI), Scaling-up Nutrition (SUN) and UNITAID.
  3. Untapped potential. Innovation and rapid scale-up in product development and market shaping (including potential for price reduction and improved stability of supply) arising from the work of a UN Commission could rapidly improve access to the selected commodities.

Expected impact

The Commission estimated that an ambitious scaling up of these 13 commodities over five years would cost less than US$2.6 billion and would cumulatively save over 6 million lives including 230,000 maternal deaths averted through increased access to family planning.

Achieving these goals would save an extra 1.8 million child deaths a year, reducing the estimated 7.1 million deaths in 2010 to 5.3 million. Likewise, the estimated 287,000 maternal deaths in 2010 would be reduced to 213,000 by increased access to maternal health and family planning commodities.