The first China International Import Expo will greatly help influence businesses to contribute to meeting the needs of children in China and across the world, said an officer from the United Nations Children's Fund during an event in Shanghai.
The panel, titled "Leading Innovative Collaborations to Build the Future of Children Everywhere", was organized by UNICEF during the ongoing expo, and attracted participants from government, international organizations, global businesses, industry associations, nonprofit organizations and academia.
Shanelle Hall, deputy executive director of UNICEF, said businesses have a great deal to offer to help address the needs of children and young people through the new inventions, products and market reach they bring to the table.
The organization, she said, has a long list of problems when trying to meet the needs of children and knows what product and technology innovations, solutions related to access, as well as on-the-ground solutions in the ecosystem are required.
"The CIIE presents an excellent opportunity for UNICEF to demonstrate how partnering with businesses can further the needs of children in China and beyond. We need to link supplies for children to innovation, research and development, and market reach for businesses," she added.
Liu Zhanjie, executive director and general manager of Qingdao Haier Biomedical, said the company has worked with UNICEF, World Health Organization and Gavi to get solar panels to store vaccines as a way to address electricity shortages in remote areas. "Now we can ensure the safety of 120,000 such vaccines."
Yang Lingjiang, manager of Chengdu Institute of Biological Products, explained its eight-year process of collaboration with partners and internal capacity building to get the Japanese encephalitis vaccine pre-certified by WHO, with a total of 420 million doses supplied to endemic areas – 45 million by UNICEF – helping to control the disease.
While China has made considerable advances in accelerating accessibility of Chinese products to the global market, "there are remaining gaps in the market for medical products for children," said Meng Dongping, vice-president of the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Medicines and Health Products.
"We need to look further at our research and development capacity and quality assurance. And we need organizations with huge supply capacities such as UNICEF to help us close market gaps," she said.
As the world's leading organization for children and the largest procurement agency in the United Nations, UNICEF has a long history of partnering with businesses, influencing markets and driving product innovation that has increased children's access to essential commodities and has incentivized businesses to contribute their core assets to the needs of children, as well as to uphold child rights.
UNICEF procures and supplies over 5,000 essential commodities from businesses to address the needs of children. In 2017, it procured $3.46 billion worth of supplies and services from all over the world, ensuring high quality and good value through fair and open procurement.
Over the last five years, UNICEF has also been building the ability to drive research and development for products essential to meet the needs of children that are not yet readily available, in areas such as health, education, water, sanitation, safety and environmental adaptation.
"While businesses have always been a part of UNICEF's story – we want you to be an even bigger part of UNICEF's future. The future of children and a generation of young people – our most important resource. And ultimately, the future of businesses, and countries' economic and social development," Hall said.