Pillar 8 supports every pillar of the public health response by providing essential supplies to ensure that every country has the capacity to respond to the pandemic. At the beginning of the global COVID-19 outbreak, there was an acute and drastic shortage of essential supplies, including personal protective equipment (PPE). Global demand for PPE is expected to continue increasing for 2021 and vital tools such as medical oxygen is still dramatically lacking in many countries. Operational support and logistics pillar has been settled to answer this issue by identifying demand, forecasting, sourcing, allocating and delivering essential supplies to where they are needed most at national and subnational level. WHO and its partners specifically work at strengthening the capacity of the National COVID-19 supply chains to meet the needs, including for PPE and oxygen, through tools, frameworks, guidance, and technical and operational support.
In 2020, a Supply Chain Task Force was convened to establish the COVID-19 supply chain system (CSCS). This platform was created to facilitate national authorities and implementing partners to request critical supplies and avoid shortages of essential medicines and health products such as PPE, biomedical equipment and diagnostics supplies. WHO also provides medical masks and laboratory tests to countries in need, as defined by the Global Humanitarian Response Plan (GHRP). In parallel, WHO is working with governments, industry and the Pandemic Supply Chain Network to boost production and secure allocations of essential supplies for critically affected and at-risk countries.
WHO’s role includes the following objectives: support to ongoing national action plans, participating in the acceleration for access to new COVID-19 tools, and research and innovation priorities.