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 Table of Contents  
LETTER TO EDITOR
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 12  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 140-142

Effects of COVID-19 pandemic on medical equipment's/devices supply chain


1 Department of Mechanical Engineering, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, India
2 Institute of Business Management, GLA University, Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, India

Date of Submission23-Dec-2020
Date of Decision15-Feb-2022
Date of Acceptance22-Feb-2022
Date of Web Publication30-Jun-2022

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Mohd Javaid
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/cmrp.cmrp_84_20

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How to cite this article:
Haleem A, Javaid M, Khan S. Effects of COVID-19 pandemic on medical equipment's/devices supply chain. Curr Med Res Pract 2022;12:140-2

How to cite this URL:
Haleem A, Javaid M, Khan S. Effects of COVID-19 pandemic on medical equipment's/devices supply chain. Curr Med Res Pract [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 Aug 12];12:140-2. Available from: http://www.cmrpjournal.org/text.asp?2022/12/3/140/349299



Dear Editor,

The spread of the COVID-19 pandemic is being contained with lockdowns of different forms, imposed differently at different locations, which disrupts the supply chains. This pandemic has created a surge in demands for critical care and associated health-care facilities, putting immense pressure on the supply chains, especially for the medical supply chain. The demand for products and services required for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 has increased, and the associated global supplies of these products are getting disrupted.[1],[2] Thus, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused extensive disruption in supply chains, with much more diverse effects on medical facilities and items required to fight the pandemic. There has been a jump in demand for essential medical devices and other protective equipment such as gloves, surgical gowns, masks, testing kits, Vaccines, Oxygen, medicines, disinfectants and other respiratory protective devices. The existing supply chains could not cope with these substantial unexpected demands, and the virus has been rapidly spreading around the world and is not just restricted to some parts of China.[3]

Hospitals are procuring and managing the necessary inventory of required medical pieces of equipment and devices to identify and treat the symptom of COVID-19. There is a requirement for the procurement of critical equipment to protect COVID viruses.[4] Nevertheless, this is not easy and needs extensive facilities and availability of transportation, thereby creating significant disruption in the procurement of products such as vaccines, medicines and even devices, which provides safety of COVID-19 and capital goods to create in-house manufacturing facilities. The import from the developed countries has dominated the current procurement trend of medical equipment and supplies in India.[5]

COVID-19 has also created a significant disruption in vaccination, especially in developing countries like India. Further, with all focus on COVID-19 vaccine development, the production of other vaccines required has been disrupted. Medical services have been deficient at many places; even proper childcare and other medical facilities are getting affected.

Due to the busy schedule of the doctors and even unavailability of health-care facilities, their attention on patients got reduced, especially for those who are suffering from other critical diseases such as cancer, very weak immunity, heart, kidney and accidental injuries. This pandemic has financial implications for the healthcare industry, and there can be disruptions in their routine procedures. Some facilities are diverted, and many patients are not even reporting for the checkup. Hence, many specialists, doctors and allied services are incurring losses and lost patients. While there are better business models for a few pathological and COVID related services.

With the effect of improper supply chain management of medical products and devices, one can see counterfeit products and poor quality services being given to patients. Large corporate are trying to develop faster testing, vaccines, medicines and IT support systems to cope up whit this disruption. They are getting flexible and trying to become responsive. Google is helping to build a pilot coronavirus testing website in the USA to assist people in finding nearby drive-through COVID-19 testing sites.[6] It also implements websites to provide information about COVID-19, especially symptoms, risks, vaccines treatments and testing information.

We have identified significant effects on the medical/health-care supply chain, which are listed below:

  • Shortage of testing kits, vaccines, medicines, oxygen and related equipment
  • Overworked medical professionals and staff
  • Untimely and inadequate supply of critical medicines
  • Wrong response from corporates/governments at the onset of the epidemic
  • Poor maintenance of critical care equipment with low trained human resources
  • Payment crises for nonCOVID-19-related products and services
  • Less proactive measures by other countries, including the USA
  • Need for improved IT support system
  • Loss of trust of SC partners and patients
  • Stress on peoples/citizens and supply chain partners
  • Less priority to other routine patients
  • Blood supply chain disruption
  • Wastage of health-care resources dedicated to other specialities and
  • Excessive load on emergency services and transportation
  • Bullwhip effect on demand of items at different phases of the pandemic
  • Mismanagement of the Vaccines and its global supply
  • Induction of untrained and other staff in services
  • Lack of efficient utilisation of available resources
  • Reduced patient safety
  • The supply chain of raw reagents and testing kits
  • Uncertain demand rises for products related to prevention of COVID 19
  • Counterfeit products, especially medicines and vaccines.


Like the traditional supply chain, the medical supply chain should also develop the capability to innovate and improve coordination (of material, information and financial flows) to achieve these characteristics to enhance the supply chain performance measures such as responsiveness, flexibility, cost, quality and customer experience.

In the current financial year, the Indian Government spending on the health-care industry stands at 1.15% of the GDP, which is relatively much low compared to other countries.[7] The country has a much low number of allopathic medical practitioners compared with the WHO guidelines. Therefore, there is an urgent need to drastically increase the health-care budget, produce more doctors, make health-care affordable for all. This could only be possible if the medical health-care supply chain is made efficient, flexible, agile and robust to function effectively in the crisis time. In India, medical device tenders are both local and global. Here, global players get an edge in sophisticated items. Second, India is a big market for second-hand medical machines. However, after the COVID-19, the Indian government would be trying localisation of the healthcare supply chain, making it closer to customers under the “Make in India” initiative. Therefore, one can expect that sophisticated medical equipment will soon be indigenously produced, and there is a need for efficient supply chains. After announcing the COVID-19 relief package by the Prime Minister of India, the vision is to make India self-reliant; the health industry is hoping to give price preference for the local procurement of medical equipment. The Indian Council of Medical Research advises setting up much better COVID-19 testing and vaccinating facilities.[8],[9]

The critical issue is that when this pandemic starts subsiding; then the bullwhip effect will be observed for various items and services. There will be many problems in dismantling and disposal of temporary structures services systems developed to cater to this pandemic. Thus, there must be an appropriate mix of tactical and strategic measures to augment the medical supply chain for required products and facilities to avoid future issues. This will help save the patient's life and provide adequate health services, and at the same time do not bring losses. The need is to develop a new implementable framework and build resilience with flexibility into supply chains.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
Tirkolaee EB, Goli A, Ghasemi P, Goodarzian F. Designing a sustainable closed-loop supply chain network of face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic: Pareto-based algorithms. J Clean Prod 2022;333:130056.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Hui DS, Azhar EI, Madani TA, Ntoumi F, Kock R, Dar O, et al. The continuing 2019-nCoV epidemic threat of novel coronaviruses to global health – The latest 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China. Int J Infect Dis 2020;91:264-6.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
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Zhu N, Zhang D, Wang W, Li X, Yang B, Song J, et al. A Novel coronavirus from patients with pneumonia in China, 2019. N Engl J Med 2020;382:727-33.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Lu R, Zhao X, Li J, Niu P, Yang B, Wu H, et al. Genomic characterisation and epidemiology of 2019 novel coronavirus: Implications for virus origins and receptor binding. Lancet 2020;395:565-74.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
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Jayakumar PB. Stimulus to Help India be among Top 5 Medical Devices Manufacturing Hubs”. Available from: https://www.businesstoday.in/sectors/pharma/stimulus-to-help-india-be-among-top-5-medical-devices-manufacturing-hubs/story/403637.html. [Last accessed on 2022 Feb 15].  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Schwartz B, Schwartz B. Google Helping to Build Pilot Coronavirus Testing Website – Search Engine Land. Available from: https://searchengineland.com/google-building-coronavirus-testing-website-330712. [Last retrieved on 2022 Feb 15].  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Budget. “Budget 2020 Expectations for India's Healthcare Sector”, The Financial Express. Available from: https://www.financialexpress.com/budget/budget-2020-expectations-for-indias-healthcare-sector/1842519/. [Last accessed on 2022 Feb 15].  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
Press Trust of India. Coronavirus in India: ICMR Issues Advisory on Setting up New Covid-19 Testing Labs in Districts; 2020. Available from: https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/coronavirus-india-icmr-issues-advisory-setting-covid-19-testing-labs-districts-1663406-2020-04-05. [Last accessed on 2022 Feb 15].  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.
Prasad Das SA, Nundy S. Rationing medical resources fairly during the Covid-19 crisis: Is this possible in India (or America)? Curr Med Res Pract 2020;10:127-9.  Back to cited text no. 9
    




 

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