Video: Why medical supplies are so hard to get during the COVID-19 pandemic

Airplane crew and airport personnel loading pallets in the charter plane.
Click to hide Text

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, competition for medical supplies has led to spikes in prices and widespread shortages, particularly of personal protective equipment (PPE). This has made it challenging for Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) to respond quickly to the outbreak and to continue our regular lifesaving activities. “Everyone in the world wants the same products right now,” says Steffie Konijn, MSF operational procurement officer. “We receive the orders from all of our countries. And we will have to decide with the limited stocks we have, which countries have the most need for these supplies.” MSF is doing all we can to help meet the needs in the places where we work. A global crisis on this scale requires global solidarity—we all need to ensure that health workers are protected and patients can be safely treated.

Read the transcript

[Lower thirds] Steffie Konijn

Operational Procurement Officer

STEFFIE:

The chain starts in the field where they have their needs.

STEFFIE:

We receive all the orders from the field for medical supplies, but also logistical supplies. And it all kind of starts with the supplier. If their factories are closed they cannot make anymore, for example surgical masks.

[Lower thirds] Filipe Garcia

Field Logistic Coordinator

FILIPE:

We are an emergency organization and we are used to emergencies.

FILIPE:

This corona crisis came out of nowhere. From one day to another we had to basically transform and adapt our supply chain. In terms of a COVID response, this is being at the moment being prioritized, due to the needs. If you face restrictions in supplies, that will eventually affect all kinds of surgical interventions and other kinds of interventions.

[TEXT] MSF operates worldwide in more than 70 countries

[Lower thirds] Alice Jurjens

Transport Officer

ALICE: There's a restriction in cargo space availability.

ALICE: Everyone wants to book their cargo on the plane. To organize a charter is a way more expensive than to send regular cargo.

[TEXT] Maastricht Aachen airport

The Netherlands

STEFFIE: The challenge there is that everyone in the world wants the same products right now. We receive the orders from all of our countries. And we will have to decide with the limited stocks we have which countries have the most need for these supplies.

FILIPE: Another challenge that we forget is the local transport. Moving things from the capital where the things arrive, to our actual project activities is challenging.

ALICE: COVID-19 is putting us on the spot, basically, because everyone's facing these types of restrictions in the end. If the regular option is no option, we try to be creative. You just hope you can get everything on time and that you can make it happen.

[TEXT] Since the start of the pandemic, competition for medical supplies has led to huge price rises and widespread shortages.

A global crisis requires global solidarity. MSF needs to ensure health workers and patients are protected and treated.