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24 Jul


On Thursday 23 July, Empower presented a Webinar on the Procurement and Supply Chain Management of Covid-19 Commodities. The focus of the webinar was to creating awareness about the role of supply chains, and how countries can build resilience against future health threats and mitigate the impact of COVID-19 through addressing Supply Chain issues.

Key Speakers:

Prof. Paul Lalvani (Dean and Director)
Prof. Andy Barraclough (Director of Learning and Development – Empower School of Health)
Mr. Sachin Jagtap (Head of Supply Chain Consulting – Empower School of Health)

Over 300 people took part in the Webinar either through the main Zoom presentation or the Facebook live streaming link.

Polls of the participants elicited that 75% were male, largely in the 30 to 40 years old range, and with 50% having a background in Pharmacy followed by management and other health professionals. Geographical Spread was worldwide but with West Africa having the largest group followed by the Asia Pacific. More than 50% were working with the Ministry of Health Structures, with 34% from NGOs. More than 50% had received training in the Procurement and Supply Chain of healthcare commodities.

The Webinar presented the operations of PSM during previous pandemics, and key lessons, before describing the role of the new UN COVID-19 Supply Chain Task Force. The current situation on COVID-19 commodities supply chains was reviewed with particular focus on the shortages of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and diagnostics testing kits and the potential impacts of supply chain disruption on regular essential medicines and vaccines supply. An overview of the range of the COVID-19 commodities required was undertaken with references to the details of the items and reliable sources of information.

Supplies forecasting for COVID-19 commodities was presented, and then an overview of the operation and use of the WHO Essential Supplies Forecasting Tool(COVID-19) EFST.

The clear need for such awareness-raising provided by this Webinar on the Procurement and Supply Chain Management (PSM) tools and resources which are available to assist countries in their COVID-19 responses, was highlighted by the results of the Polls of the participants which were taken during the Webinar: with only 50% having previously heard of the WHO Emergency Global Supply Catalog (COVID-19) and less than 7% have used it: and similarly for the WHO Essential Supplies Forecasting Tool(COVID-19) (ESFT), with 66% having never heard of it before, and only 16% having used it, and only one person has received training in its use.

Feedback from participants was exceedingly positive but with all – more than 97% - wishing for more information and training in the use of the tools and resources which are available.

KEY POINT: If such a substantial proportion of such a large and experienced group of PSM professionals were not even aware of the tools which are available for addressing COVID-19 commodities, there is a proven need for far greater socialization of the existing tools and provision of training in their use. Further, that there is not widespread awareness of the potential disruption to ‘regular’ healthcare supplies – especially Essential Medicines and Vaccines – and potential mitigation strategies, requires an urgent response to ensure that accurate information and status reports on global healthcare commodity supply are made much more widely available. COVID-19 commodities are already in short supply, it is essential that mitigation strategies to minimize disruption of regular healthcare commodities are implemented promptly.

Overall, clearly a very successful Webinar, which also served to highlight the need for much greater awareness-raising in this field.

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