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Weekly Operational Update on COVID-19 (4 September 2020)

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PAHO Strategic Fund minimizes disruption of critical medications and supplies during COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic rapidly disrupted freight movement, particularly by air, of essential health supplies, while nationally lockdowns disrupted pharmaceutical production.

These and other unexpected supply chain disruptions all significantly complicated the delivery of vital health products just when health services needed them the most. The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) through the ‘Strategic Fund for Essential Medicines and Public Health Supplies’ responded quickly to minimize the impact by working with three key stakeholder groups – regional and national health authorities, technical experts, and suppliers.

Working with procurement specialists and national health authorities to undertake a regional inventory, product surpluses were then shared between countries, facilitating equitable and efficient donations and loans of lifesaving medications and supplies between Member States. This led to better stock distribution from the regional warehouse for malaria, Chagas disease, and leishmaniasis for example.

These rapid, innovative, and proactive measures to mitigate the disruption of health care supply chains has built Regional resilience through leveraging partnerships between national authorities, technical experts, and suppliers. PAHO Director, Dr. Carissa Etienne, has urged countries to “reengineer how essential care is delivered and invest in the first level of care” in order to effectively adapt to the pandemic situation.