USAID DISCOVER-Health Procures Essential Items for Zambia’s COVID-19 Response, Part 3 of 3

May 30th, 2020 | Viewpoint

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While countries around the world scrambled to obtain the commodities to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, Zambia’s limited supplies significantly threatened not only public health and safety, but also the health gains the country had worked so hard to achieve over decades. 

On April 3, 2020, USAID allocated funding to its DISCOVER-Health Project in Zambia to procure essential items for the country’s emergency COVID-19 response. 

Faced with this mammoth task, the USAID DISCOVER-Health project quickly shifted priorities to ensure the country, home to 17 million people, was prepared to control the pandemic. As of June 1st, Zambia had 1089 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and seven deaths, according to the Ministry of Health.

In the last of a 3-part series, we ask the USAID DISCOVER-Health procurement team about the impact of their work.

How has COVID-19 procurement affected the supply of other non-COVID medicines and equipment needed?

Though our recent efforts have focused on COVID-19 supplies, we’ve continued procuring routine medicines and equipment as specified for the project, to ensure that routine health care service delivery does not suffer amidst the pandemic.

We have not yet seen adverse effects on ongoing procurement, however, we anticipate price increases as a result of increased production and freight costs, import restrictions and limitations, and exchange rate fluctuations.

USAID allocated funding to JSI's DISCOVER-Health Project in Zambia to procure essential items for the country’s emergency COVID-19 response.

COVID-19 emergency supplies in storage prior to distribution.

What has been the impact of this huge effort?

USAID DISCOVER-Health procurements on behalf of the national response to the COVID-19 emergency add up to around $3.5 million to date. These supplies are being used in many critical areas of Zambia’s national emergency response to COVID-19, across the entire country.

At the project level, USAID DISCOVER-Health is committed to the safety of its staff as they continue to deliver important HIV services during the pandemic.

James Mwanza is a Hub Manager in Chingola with 26 staff members on his team. They support 14 sites.

Mwanza said: “Our procurement team has really been on top of things, ensuring people get the required infection prevention and control equipment on site. It has given us confidence in continuing to work. Before these supplies, I was anticipating coming back home with COVID-19, and now I know I’m coming back home as safe as I went.”

Barbara Miti is an ART Provider at the John Laing Clinic in Lusaka. That clinic has seven staff members and six community health workers.

“If I need to examine a client and get close, I know I’m well protected. We have a lot of clients, so I can’t wash my hands all the time, but with the hand sanitizer it’s quicker and easier,” said Barbara. “The infection control equipment also helps the clients understand the seriousness of the pandemic. When they see us well protected, it helps their understanding. So when they come to us they’re also prepared. We’re a happy team and this infection prevention and control equipment is evidence that I’m also being cared for as a caregiver.”

Part 1 of this series recounts how the team overcame the many challenges it encountered.
Part 2 of this series recounts how the team quickly adapted its ways of working to support Zambia during the pandemic.

The USAID DISCOVER-Health procurement team:
Shahzad Akbar, Procurement Manager, Boston
Mika Bwembya, Public Health Supply Chain Director, Lusaka
Nylepitha Chirambo, Operations Director, Lusaka
Louise Henderson, Finance and Administration Director, Lusaka
Allison Molenda, Finance and Operations Manager, Boston
Manasseh Pasi, Procurement Manager, Lusaka

To learn more, watch a Facebook Live interview between USAID DISCOVER-Health’s Project Director Dr. Muka Chikuba and Chargé d’Affaires David Young of the US Embassy in Zambia.

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