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Coronavirus Crisis: Impact Of COVID-19 On Global Healthcare Industry

This post is a part of YKA’s dedicated coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak and aims to present factual, reliable information. Read more.

The novel coronavirus has infected over 4,72,529 people, claimed 21,305 lives (as of 26 March, 2020) in a mere span of months. Economies and healthcare systems are under immense pressure to bring the situation under control. COVID-19 originated in Wuhan, China, in December 2019 and has spread to nearly 160 countries in less than three months. On 11 March, 2020, the WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic.

Disruptions in the Healthcare Supply Chain

With a shortage of hand sanitisers, counterfeiting of face masks and many other disruptions in supply chain channels, coronavirus has already created havoc in global markets. Disruptions in the healthcare supply chain have significantly impacted the sourcing, procurement and management of necessary medical equipment inventories.

China is among the largest suppliers of a majority of healthcare commodities, namely pharmaceutical APIs and components of medical devices. But with China as the epicentre for the pandemic, the healthcare sector is exposed to the risk of COVID-19.

As a response to supply chain disruptions, healthcare facilities have started stockpiling available products. Such unrestricted purchasing is further imposing financial pressure on the healthcare sector, which is already suffering issues such as procurement inefficiencies and wasted spend. This has also led to the yield of compromised quality of care. Several instances of sanitiser and face masks counterfeiting have been noted in developing countries, which could negatively impact the healthcare sector as a whole.

As per Operation Pangea XIII, in which 90 countries’ health regulatory authorities, customs and police have been involved against the illicit online sales of medical products and medicines, 121 arrests were made globally with the seizure of potentially dangerous pharmaceutical products worth USD 14 million in this dire situation of COVID-19.

Fall of Healthcare Systems due to COVID-19?

The U.S. has the most developed healthcare systems globally. High healthcare costs and low medical capacity have made the country’s healthcare system vulnerable to COVID-19, similar to all other economies. Unlike the U.S., other countries with universal healthcare are testing more people for COVID-19 and seem to be combating it in a better way.

Among developed countries, Northern Italy has one of the best public healthcare systems with well-trained medical professionals and doctors. Earlier, the region showed preparedness for COVID-19; however, in the present day scenario, the country’s healthcare system has been pushed to the breaking point.

COVID-19 has affected frontline workers in the healthcare sector, which primarily includes medical professionals. 20–30% of healthcare professionals have been affected by COVID-19, and there have been 2,500 deaths from COVID-19 in Italy in a month, with over 31,500 confirmed cases. As a measure to lower the healthcare system’s burden, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte issued a lockdown of Italy’s Lombardy region on 8 March, effectively quarantining over 16 million people in the north.

Globally Availability of Hospital Beds by Country per 1,000 people

Governments are undertaking various initiatives to control the situation. For instance, as the number of confirmed cases in India is increasing, government officials have added 12,000 beds at central government facilities, including the Indian Army and Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) facilities.

Measures Taken to Combat the Novel Coronavirus Pandemic

  • Partnerships among governments and private players for COVID-19 vaccine development.
  • Strategies for planning for medicines supply chain challenges.
  • AbbVie partnered with global regulators to support the use of HIV medicines for the treatment of COVID-19.
  • Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc. expanded its collaboration with Vir to advance RNAi therapeutics.
  • Genentech initiated a Phase III clinical trial of Actemra in hospitalised patients with severe COVID-19 pneumonia.
  • EpiVax is identifying key regions of viral sequences to include in a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • GSK is supplying vaccine adjuvant technology to scientists and organisations working on a vaccine.
  • Grifols has shared technology in convalescent plasma and is working on diagnostic and screening tests.
  • Chloroquine to be tested for coronavirus treatment in the U.S.
  • Launch of a global mega-trial for the four most promising coronavirus treatments by the WHO.

Potential Impact of COVID-19 on Pharma and Biotech Industries

  • Potential supply chain disruptions as the U.S. discontinues monitoring the supply chain.
  • Shortage of critical medical products.
  • Delays in the manufacture & import of APIs & excipients.
  • Distressed medical facilities with a lack of employees.
  • The U.S. FDA’s willingness to become more flexible for priority drugs.
  • Import of medical devices from China.
  • Delays in potential drug applications.
  • Restricted product promotions.

Conclusion

The coronavirus pandemic has tremendously impacted the healthcare sector, including pharmaceutical and medical devices. The sector has experienced a declining growth rate in the first quarter of 2020. It will take the coming 2–3 years for it to return to normal, where the strategies for mitigating the impact will be fully functional. Till then, the healthcare sector is expected to grow at a stagnant rate.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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