Strengthening Supply Chains to Respond to COVID-19

August 5th, 2020 | Viewpoint


As countries around the world respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, already strained health supply chains are being tested. Yet the COVID-19 emergency response depends on these health supply chains, which are essential for ensuring that frontline health workers have the supplies and medicines they need to fight the virus.

As attention and resources focus on the pandemic, health supply chains must continue their equally important daily operations and prevent disruptions. We are beginning to understand the devastating potential of these disruptions on immunization, family planning, maternal and newborn health, and HIV services and supplies.

For the past 40 years, JSI has worked with country governments, NGOs, and other partners in more than 60 countries to build global health supply chains that meet people’s health needs and are resilient enough to withstand shocks, such as the one that COVID-19 has delivered. In many countries where we work, we are supporting the urgent supply chain needs to mitigate the pandemic.

In Zambia, our USAID DISCOVER-Health project is helping procure equipment and supplies. We are contacting suppliers to determine what can be sourced locally and what must be ordered internationally, and determining lead times for critical supplies. DISCOVER-Health is also working with JSH, a local JSI affiliate, to help track the supplies that the U.S Government and other donors have delivered to Medical Stores Limited, the government agency focused on procuring, storing, and distributing essential medicines. JSH is now adapting the country’s electronic logistics management information system to track COVID-19 commodities and supplies to enable facilities to use them prudently and ensure that they reach intended beneficiaries. 

In Ethiopia, through the USAID Digital Health Activity (DHA), we have created systems to support the Ethiopian Food and Drug Administration’s (EFDA) efforts to accelerate the availability of critical personal protective items. DHA developed a system to enable EFDA to control hand sanitizer quality as part of the electronic regulatory information system that facilitates registration and import approval for food and medicines. We have also developed a simplified process to expedite licensing and registration for COVID-19 supplies.

In Tanzania, JSI is a partner with Guidehouse on the Global Health Supply Chain – Technical Assistance project. As part of the government’s COVID-19 response, the project is helping to implement emergency supply chain guidelines. Our support includes quantification and supply planning and end-to-end COVID-19 supply chain data visibility.

In Pakistan, the U.S. Embassy recently announced the delivery of new equipment to health facilities in Mohmand District in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province. With funding from USAID, JSI’s Integrated Health Services Strengthening and Service Delivery Activity supported the procurement of these essential medical supplies, as well as training for health care providers to use it.

In addition to our country focus, we are also providing support at the global level. This support includes providing guidance, insights and technical assistance to the supply chain community including   

We also supported the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition to develop a roadmap for building resilient supply chains for sexual and reproductive health products during COVID-19 and beyond.

Through our supply chain subsidiary, The Partnership for Supply Chain Management (PFSCM), JSI is helping to bring quality-assured COVID-19 testing products to low- and middle-income countries around the world. Since May this year, PFSCM has procured $26.2 million worth of COVID-19 diagnostic products and delivered 66 shipments to 31 countries.

In addition, the JSI-managed International Association of Public Health Logisticians, a community of more than 7,500 professionals from 150 countries, is facilitating multiple moderated discussions in which members ask and answer each other’s pandemic-related questions and offer technical support and practical advice. 

While no one knows when the pandemic will end, we at JSI are using our expertise to help our partners mitigate supply disruptions until that day arrives. 

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