By Vafa Ismayilova
The WHO Regional Office for Europe and UNICEF Supply Division have extended their support to Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, and Uzbekistan in optimizing the performance of their supply chains to ensure timely delivery of medicines and health products, the WHO reported on its website on February 8.
"Countries in the European Region had repeatedly experienced supply chain challenges, such as shortages of antigens, stockouts, and interruptions in immunization services despite marked improvements over the last decade. The unfolding COVID-19 pandemic has further disrupted international, regional and local supply chains, undermining national response efforts and putting a strain on other critical and routine health interventions," the report said.
It stressed that in order to address these barriers, UNICEF and WHO, with the support of the Global Fund, are uniting their technical resources and expertise to support the health authorities of those 5 countries. The integrated teams will establish the development needs in the countries’ supply chain management systems, identifying and quantifying their supply chain strengths, gaps, and opportunities as the basis for organizing and implementing improvement plans.
Acting as the lead agency on this exercise, WHO/Europe is leveraging its convening power to engage in multistakeholder consultations and conduct a government-led and participatory health supply chain assessment using the UNICEF supply chain maturity model. The tool enables health and other government officials to review the performance of 13 critical operational and technical supply chain functions, the report added.
"This exercise provides government decision-makers with a formal baseline for each supply chain area, links targeted priority investments against evidence of need, outlines technical assistance needs from Partners, and leads to the development of national supply chain-strengthening response plans that expand access to essential medicines and health products for all," the report said.
Concurrently, the interventions will highlight the strengths of supply chain modelling with a clear opportunity to share best practices and promote cross-learning opportunities within the Region.
The outcome will help ensure the successful transition of countries towards financial and technical sustainability as they migrate from the Global Fund support. It will also determine countries’ readiness level and management capacity for the deployment of the COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines.
On February 1, President Ilham Aliyev positively assessed the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination in Azerbaijan and described the country as the leader in the South Caucasus region in this sphere. He added that Azerbaijan is a member of the COVAKS initiative and it will get various vaccines through COVAKS. The vaccination started in Azerbaijan on 18 January. As a country chairing the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), Azerbaijan provided financial and humanitarian assistance to more than 30 countries.
Aliyev added that voluntary donations of $10 million were made to international organizations, including WHO. Of that, $5 million went to their common pandemic efforts and the other $5 million was provided to the poorest NAM member countries.
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