This article is a sub-article of “Could We Have Been More Prepared for the Coronavirus Pandemic?” See the full article.
In clinical care settings, health facilities are running low on basic medical supplies and equipment for treating patients with COVID-19. The humanitarian response is often to send anything and everything but that strategy frequently puts a greater burden on health facilities because many donated supplies fail to be useful.
“A well-functioning health system ensures access to essential medical products, vaccines, and devices,” said Lori Warrens, Program Director of MedSurplus Alliance. “It takes established processes from donor to recipient health facilities to ensure that requested supplies make it to areas of need during emergencies like outbreaks.”
Through an accreditation program for medical surplus recovery organizations (MSROs) and other donors, The Task Force for Global Health’s MedSurplus Alliance (MSA) has helped develop this process so that countries receive the supplies and equipment they need quickly.
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, MSA-accredited MSROs are working with the most affected countries and community health providers in the United States to help combat the strain on health facilities by sending essential protective gear.
The accredited-MSROs Hospital Sisters Mission Outreach, SOS, and Medshare partnered with UPS and The UPS Foundation to deliver over 4 million masks and other essential supplies to health providers in Shanghai at the beginning of the outbreak. Brother’s Brother Foundation shipped several 40 ft. containers of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other supplies to hospitals in Honduras, Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico.
Today, MSROs are prioritizing health providers serving vulnerable populations in low-resource settings located near their operations in Georgia, Texas, Kentucky, Illinois, Ohio, California, and New Jersey. In one instance, accredited-MSRO, Medical Bridges, supplied 6000 masks to 20 rural clinics and hospitals in Texas, and MSA is working with the Georgia Primary Care Association to meet local needs in Georgia.
To help prevent the donation of inappropriate medical supplies and equipment and appropriately allocate scarce supplies during this pandemic, MSA is also providing guidance and resources to donors on how to identify what specific supplies are needed and the best ways to maximize them.
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Header photo caption: Doctors rely on numerous supplies and equipment and protective personal equipment like these doctors at the Hospital de San Pedro in Antigua Guatemala to be able to do their jobs and improve patients’ health. Photo credit: Ryan Zimmerman