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    #COVID19: Supply-chain disruptions hamper delivery of essential services

    Government needs to work with the pharmaceutical, medical devices and healthcare industry to tackle administrative issues during the lockdown

    This week has been like none other in the history of independent India. The unprecedented lockdown in light of the global COVID-19 pandemic has forced a change in operations across sectors while completing bringing to a halt many non-essential services. The health industry in particular is facing a challenge of its own. Being an essential service that plays an extremely crucial role in the existing scenario, there is a need for smooth flow of operations in the sector at the moment. However, the nationwide lockdown has in the last few days led to a certain amount of ambiguity in the operation of essential services. This has in turn caused wide-spread supply-chain disruptions especially in the health sector.
    Timely delivery of medical devices, pharmaceuticals and healthcare equipment is important at the time of a public health emergency such as the one caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. Disruptions in the supply-chain hamper that process severely. Therefore, the need of the hour is to ensure a clear channel of command between all stakeholders. Ambiguous communication between governments at the center and state as well as concerned authorities has resulted in delays due to restricted movement of goods and services, especially in the first couple of days of the lockdown. Structured and clear communication are key to resolving this issue. At the end of the week, the situation does seem to be stabilising but unless some definitive communication strategy is not put in place, it would become extremely difficult to sustain a 21-day long lockdown with essential healthcare services affected.
    The government should take the healthcare industry along with them as they combat the current health crisis. A 21-day lockdown is something our country isn’t prepared for. There is need for a support system where the government aligns itself with different pharmaceutical and medical devices organisations as well as the Chemist and Drug Association because at this moment, the industry leaders realise the need to come together and fight the pandemic as one unit.
    Moreover, during the lockdown, it is also important to keep people aware of the situation to avoid panic. The government has been using social media tools such as WhatsApp to generate awareness and curb the spread of misinformation, but in the coming days this communication needs to be consistent and in line with the data put out by the World Health Organisation. The WHO has been issuing guidelines and busting myths around the coronavirus pandemic. It is now the responsibility of individual national governments to percolate that information amongst people. Subsequently, experts and key opinion leaders from the healthcare industry should be brought in to issue constant updates on the situation.