Supporting Public Health

Cutting the red tape on trade in vaccines and critical medical supplies

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that public health can hinge on the smooth and rapid movement of crucial medicines and medical supplies around the world. The Alliance is working with a growing number of countries to find and remove any trade barriers that might get in their way.

The Challenge

Public health authorities need to be able to import medicines, vaccines, medical supplies and equipment swiftly and safely, but in some developing and least-developed countries a reliance on outdated border processes can delay these vital shipments, sometimes for weeks.

Time-sensitive pharmaceuticals and vaccines sometimes end up stalled in storage facilities, driving up costs and creating unpredictability for both the private and public sectors. Some shipments, like vaccine kits, have to be broken down into their separate parts at border controls, given different trade rules apply to individual elements in each consignment.

Trade facilitation is critical for countries and businesses that are producing not only finished medical products but critical inputs, such as the ingredients for vaccines that are not only alleviating the COVID-19 crisis but are vital in protecting communities from other familiar diseases.

The Alliance Solution

The Alliance is working with governments, international organisations such as UNICEF, and health companies to identify these kinds of bottlenecks and introduce a range of solutions to ensure a more rapid but safe movement of health-related shipments across borders.

These solutions can include digitising pre-shipment authorisations that have long relied on paper-based, in-person submissions for each shipment of healthcare-related products. For vaccine imports in some African countries, the application and approval process can take as long as two weeks, leading to inventory challenges and higher storage costs.

Alliance projects rely on automation to speed the process while ensuring there is still effective oversight to determine the origin and effectiveness of the medicines and supplies in any shipment. Digitised systems also make for easier collaboration among the various government agencies responsible for healthcare related imports, including customs departments and health ministries.

As a result, suppliers benefit from more transparent, predictable, and efficient trade processes that no longer rely so heavily on in-person application and authorizations as well physical inspections of shipments when they arrive at their destinations.

IN PRACTICE:

Mozambique Vaccines and Associated Supplies

In progress

Routine vaccines, including those for polio, pneumonia, diphtheria, hepatitis B, measles and rubella, as well as related medical supplies will face fewer hurdles entering Mozambique thanks to the Alliance’s work with the Ministry of Heath, the National Directorate of Pharmacy, Customs, UNICEF, and other partners to automate import processes.

Read more.

Mozambique Rapid Test Kit Imports 

In progress

Rapid test kits are essential in the fight against malaria and HIV/AIDS and this project aims to cut the time required to receive the necessary shipping authorisations, a paper-based process that can take up to 11 days. An automated application and approval system that is integrated with Mozambique’s Single Window will save considerable time and cut costs.

Read more.

Pneumonia coronavirus

ASEAN COVID-19 Response 

In development

The COVID-19 pandemic placed enormous pressure on governments to ensure they had immediate access to crucial medical supplies, including masks, gloves, gowns, needles, and syringes. Our collaboration with the US-ASEAN Business Council aims to support governments in ASEAN developing countries identify and anticipate any red tape that might slow the flow of these and other medical supplies before the next emergency.