Life-Saving Commodities

Life-Saving Commodities
Hauwau Hamajora, holding her 2-year-old son and his health records, waits with other women and their children for services at Gurin Primary Health Centre in Adamawa State, Nigeria, in 2014.
© UNICEF/Esiebo

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.

RMNCH Continuum of Care Commodity Usage
Reproductive health Female Condoms Family planning/Contraception
Implants Family planning/Contraception
Emergency Contraception Family planning/Contraception
Maternal Health Oxytocin Post-Partum Hemorrhage
Misoprostol Post-Partum Hemorrhage
Magnesium sulfate Eclampsia and Severe Pre-Eclamsia/Toxemia of Pregnancy
Newborn Health Injectable antibiotics Newborn Sepsis
Antenatal Corticosteroid (ANCS) Respiratory Distress Syndrome for preterm babies
Chlorhexidine Newborn Cord Care
Resuscitation Equipment Newborn Asphyxia
Child Health Amoxicillin Pneumonia
Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) Diarrhea
Zinc Diarrhea


The Commission looked at three criteria to identify these commodities:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.