EHS-COVID (294) Building resilient sexual and reproductive health supply chains during COVID-19 and beyond

12 May, 2021

Dear HIFA colleagues,

(with thanks to Sanchika Gupta)

Supply chains are not central to HIFA, but they are of course critical to essential health services, and there has been much disruption to supply chains worldwide during COVID.

This detailed 74-page publication from JSI examines supply chain issues in relation to SRH (sexual and reproductive health).

Selected extracts below.


Policy guidance from WHO and UN agencies helped overcome bottlenecks, particularly around the movement of health products and the inclusion of SRH within essential services.

Funding availability and flexibility increased responsiveness, particularly around the need to procure PPE and other supplies for infection prevention and control.

Production was affected by the availability of input materials, staff availability/safety, and initial policies restricting movement of people and export of goods.

During the reactive and crisis management periods (JanApril/May 2020), heavy reliance on China and India for both inputs (API, key starting materials) and finished pharmaceutical products put most manufacturing (international and local) at risk when supplies and shipping from these countries were disrupted.

While many of the manufacturers were able to adapt operations to a new work environment and return production capacity to pre-COVID levels, for others, disruption persists. As COVID-19 rates increase in different parts of the world and airports close or governments enact new restrictions on travel to/from and within certain countries, disruption remains a persistent threat.

COVID-19 exposed new risks and amplified existing vulnerabilities for SRH products

A limited and fragile supply of quality-assured SRH products creates unhealthy market conditions and limits resiliency.

Our supply chains are global: regardless of where a product is manufactured, almost all rely on materials and inputs produced in another country.

COVID-19 highlighted uncomfortable truths about which supply chain improvement initiatives to prioritize.


For those HIFA members with an interest in supply chains and logistics, I recommend you join the IAPHL discussion forum. International Association of Public Health Logisticians. I am a member myself and they are very active.

Neil Pakenham-Walsh, HIFA Coordinator,