Research Project

Measures for Improved Availability of medicines and vaccines (MIA)

Ensuring availability of essential medicines, vaccines and health commodities is one of today’s critical societal challenges

The COVID Project

The current scramble under COVID-19 for PPE and other critical goods is reminiscent of the Ebola epidemic in 2014. The strain on global supply chains resulting from COVID-19 is not limited to PPE, tests and ventilators. There is a real risk it can spread to other critical goods, including generic medicines. Similarly, the demand for antibiotics may outstrip production as COVID-19 causes serious secondary bacterial infections such as pneumonia. This complex and poorly understood dynamics interconnectedness requires a global system perspective and analysis. Extant literature on medicine and health commodities supply chains has failed to conceptualise and model such supply chains as systems that must adapt from stable situations to crises and back to stability again. There is limited understanding of private-public-partnerships, procurement, contracting, and regulation.

To combat the problem of lacking coordination and preparedness, we need to look beyond single countries and single crises to the complex system of global supply chains capable of producing, stockpiling and distributing essential supplies. By establishing and coordinating global preparedness stockpiles of critical goods, framework agreements with suppliers, surge capacities that can be made quickly operational, flexible transport solutions and multiple suppliers of critical goods, we may be able to ensure sufficient slack is built into the system so it can handle stress without breaking down. This project intends to explore these solutions and others to allow governments to prepare and react nimbly.

The COVID-19 Supply Chain Task Force constitutes of more than 20 researchers/practitioners from Jimma University Institute of Health, BI Norwegian Business School, St. Pauls Hospital in Ethiopia, and Norwegian Institute of Public Health with strong backgrounds in medicine, health supply chains and analytics and two decades of research in humanitarian logistics, particularly preparedness issues.

The primary objective is to help key stakeholders make evidence-based decisions that improve availability of medicines and health commodities during times of crisis. This project aims to develop supply chain interventions so that countries can prepare for potential epidemics in a cost-effective manner but also react effectively during a crisis to maintain critical supply of life-saving medicines and commodities. The scope includes advanced supply chains in high-income European countries (HIC) and more rudimentary systems in low-income countries (LIC).

Secondary objectives

  • Demonstrate how COVID-19 impact supply chains (both the direct effects on commodities used for the response and the indirect effects to the response such as access to chronic disease medicines).
  • Evaluate the impact of a range of interventions on the supply chain and consequently, the epidemic, and under which circumstances (e.g. HIC vs. LIC context) are some more effective than others and what are the main trade-offs between costs, risks, and availability.

For this project, MIAs reference group has been augmented with expertise on health in Ethiopia with Zeleke Mekonnen (PhD), Professor of Medical Parasitology, School of Medical Laboratory Sciences, Health Research and Innovation, Director, Jimma University Institute of Health (JUIH), Mr. Tariku Shimels, Federal Ministry of Health, St.Pauls Hospital Millenium Medical College and Jeanette H. Magnus MD PhD, Section for Leadership, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo and focal point in Saccade, funded by Norhed and led by College of Public Health and Medicine Science at Jimma University in Ethiopia.