NEW YORK, MAY 28, 2020—The international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) called today for new regulations to ensure that personal protective equipment (PPE) is distributed in an equitable and transparent manner during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, competition in the market for medical supplies has reached unprecedented levels, and strong protection measures—notably bans on exports—have been put in place by many countries, including the United States. This has resulted in huge price increases and widespread shortages, particularly of the PPE needed to protect health care workers.
“At the moment, the market for PPE is dominated by a lack of transparency about what is being produced and where, its quality, the amounts in stock, and how they are allocated,” said Thierry Allafort-Duverger, MSF’s general director in Paris. “Assistance to countries facing shortages has been mainly delivered through piecemeal and one-shot actions that are producing uncertainty, chaos, and inequality in the supply chain at a time when health care systems everywhere need predictability and accountability.”
In many countries, national health care providers and other medical care providers are struggling to ensure a steady and reliable supply of the various items needed to ensure protection for medical staff—surgical and FFP2 masks, goggles, medical gowns, and other equipment.
MSF is also encountering difficulties planning for reliable PPE supply for its projects across the world. This situation is not only hampering efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19, but also the ability to continue to provide other essential medical services, such as surgery or treatment for patients suffering from measles, tuberculosis, and other infectious diseases.