COVID response: Health

 

As the pandemic hit, almost every country across the region helped to immediately procure supplies like Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), virus and laboratory tests, ventilators, and thermometers, for health workers, police and the security sector, and citizens.

Offices also mobilized digital tools to provide health care services online, and to spread information about combating the virus.

But in Europe and Central Asia, the capacity of health systems to cope with the pandemic is in question and we have been working with governments to procure necessary medicines, renovate hospitals and health clinics and improve health care services. We are helping governments assess their health systems to determine how well people are integrated into public health systems, how well the public health system covers the population and who might be left behind.                     

The many people living with HIV, TB, viral hepatitis and underlying non-communicable diseases are more vulnerable to the risks of the Coronavirus. In addition, COVID-19 will impact the supply chain availability for necessary medicines and divert attention for care of these ongoing diseases. We are adapting our current health programs to respond to these needs to minimize the spread of disease and keep those already at risk in their treatment programs.

UNDP’s Quality Assurance (QA) Policy for Health Products, indispensable given the risk associated with the distribution of substandard or falsified health products, is now being applied to medical supplies. We are sharing tools for human rights due diligence and corruption monitoring in procurement, as TI estimates that 28 percent of health corruption cases are related specifically to procurement of medical equipment.

Our newly launched Sustainable Procurement in the Health Sector guidance note is a step towards strengthening greener health systems in the long term. Informed by our experience responding to past disease outbreaks and work to limit pollutants from health care waste, we are supporting health care waste management - upgrading, provision, and installation of waste management equipment, waste logistic supplies and treatment technologies to reduce exposure to biological hazards and contaminant.

 

Here's what we're doing

 

- UNDP in Bosnia and Herzegovina managed US$8.6 million of donor funding (EU, Norway, Switzerland) and $6 million in government cost-sharing for health procurement. Businesses involved in a UNDP economic growth project received additional equipment to accelerate the production of protective equipment.

UNDP is also helping authorities in their effective management of medical waste during and after the COVD-19 outbreak. Partnering with health institutions, waste utility companies and households in affected communities, UNDP aims to introduce a sustainable and secure medical waste management approach, as well as advance capabilities of stakeholders in the medical waste management system to better respond to the rising amounts of hazardous medical waste during crises.

- Cyprus used its EU-funded projects, with their approval, to procure vital medical supplies and mobilize private sector health practitioners in support to the COVID response in the Turkish Cypriot community.

A new UNDP initiative provides home care support and other services to 4,000 vulnerable people at high risk of contracting COVID-19 in Georgia’s capital and other regions – older people living on their own, persons with chronic diseases and special needs, and people who need some additional support in self-isolation. 

- In Kazakhstan, UNDP is supporting the government in safe collection and disposal of the infected medical waste by introducing environmentally friendly, non-incineration waste management technologies in the hospitals dealing with the COVID cases.  To create a model for the proper management of infected medical waste, UNDP and ADB will develop appropriate standards and algorithms for the collection, sorting and transportation of medical waste, as well as training health workers on proper disposal.

- Through its Global Fund project, UNDP in Kyrgyzstan is working to ensure that people living with HIV and TB and those who inject drugs – who are more vulnerable to the Coronavirus – are protected and able to continue their regular treatments amidst a challenging health service environment.  

- UNDP in Montenegro, with EU support, provided modern X-ray equipment to hospitals in the country, enabling more precise and faster radiographic diagnostics in hospitals. The equipment will prepare facilities in case of a possible second wave of the epidemic, and ensure long-term improvement of hospital capacities in Montenegro.

In cooperation with the Blood Transfusion Institute of Montenegro, UNDP and the ‘AB+’  team of innovators - whose solution won at  CoronaThon.me - are developing a platform linking blood donors with the national transfusion system, providing easily accessible data and exchange of information on which blood type is in demand, where the donors can provide it as well as emergency alert to potential donors, thus bridging the gap and tackling the shortage of certain blood types.

 - UNDP Serbia, in close cooperation with EU and China and upon the Government’s request, organized 15 cargo aircrafts with 720 tons of urgently needed medical and protective supplies.

In order to increase the resilience and capacities of the national public health system to respond to similar challenges in the future, and also stimulate local business development, innovation and entrepreneurship, Serbia awarded grants to enable the local production of necessary medical equipment (PPE, tests, ventilators, disinfectants, etc.) and disposal and treatment of medical waste.

- UNDP in Tajikistan is focusing on effective emergency coordination within the healthcare system through a digital platform that links central and regional levels through data collection, data analysis and management.

- In Uzbekistan, upon government request, UNDP will introduce an anti-corruption management system in the Ministry of Health and the overall health care system (for compliance around core business processes, including procurement, storing and distribution of medical supplies, disaster and emergency preparedness).

 

One of the Engineering Faculty in Sarajevo prints and assembles visors with equipment provided by UNDP and the Government of Norway, which includes new 3D printers and a machine for testing the mechanical properties of materials. Photo: Dejan Miholjcic / UNDP Bosnia and Herzegovina

 

 

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