In Africa, which has lagged behind other continents in terms of COVID-19 infections, it is important for governments to act swiftly to protect healthcare supply chains in the event that the epidemic continues to spread.
According to Bonface Fundafunda, ARC Eastern & Southern Africa Regional Lead, there are five critical considerations that can enable stability of health supply chains in Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Coordination of supply chain systems: Supply systems need to work closely with their ministries of health to put in place strategies to procure, supply and re-position all the emergency response health products needed to combat the coronavirus.
- Inclusion of stakeholders in response: Supply chain representatives must be included in the emergency response teams set up by ministries of health, as they can assist in supporting the planning and decision-making process, ensuring that all services needed to be provided are costed.
- Strengthened communication and information flows: Governments are keeping tabs on new information from trusted bodies like the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control, as well as their own national disease management authorities, which will shape efforts around prevention, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19.
- Planning: Governments are working with these relevant institutions to ensure that there are pre-qualified health products to which they have access. Each country is aiming to have coordinated response to the coronavirus, using the latest corroborated information on the disease, the type of clinical response, and the health products required to be at the diagnostic and treatment centres
- Effective response: Supply chain professionals working in or for public health are part of the health team led by the ministry of health. Effective response can be assured if these professionals are recognised as the cornerstone of public health that they are.
Fundafunda commented that “success will be shown through uninterrupted availability of affordable health products for effective emergency response to any person that needs professional diagnosis, isolation and treatment. On the other hand, failure will show itself in the form of unnecessary fatalities. An uncoordinated supply chain service that fails to engage with emergency preparedness will contribute towards failure.”
Thankfully, Fundafunda says, practically all the governments in Africa are responding to the coronavirus pandemic and have issued public directives on preventative and containment strategies.