The world is ill-prepared for fast moving outbreaks of diseases to which humans have limited or no immunity. Pandemics are a global security threat that demand a truly international response, particularly given the high probability that the world will experience a severe outbreak in the next 10-15 years. Recent modeling and economic analysis warn of a massive risk to human lives and the global economy.
There is no shortage of lessons from the catastrophic diseases that have plagued our world in recent decades. SARS, 2009 H1N1, and the largest and longest Ebola outbreak in history have highlighted critical gaps that remain significant challenges with each global disease outbreak. To improve our ability to effectively respond to pandemics, we must address a critical vulnerability in pandemic response: supply chain and logistics. The crux of a successful pandemic response depends on a robust availability of supply and timely delivery of medical and protective supplies to treat patients and protect health workers. Supply chain challenges that hindered the Ebola response efforts included lack of public-private sector coordination, severe warehousing and distribution capacity limitations, and access constraints caused by airport and port restrictions and border closures.
Moreover, the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak demonstrated that pandemic preparedness and response requires multi-sector networks working across systems and silos to facilitate communication, collaboration, and coordination. Additionally, private sector collaboration in pandemic preparedness is crucial as businesses bring to the table expertise and resources that the public sector does not have.
Formation of the Network
In light of lessons learned from Ebola response, private sector participants at the January 2015 World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos expressed a desire to establish better coordination across sectors to enhance global pandemic response capabilities. As a follow-up to the Davos meeting, several public and private sector entities came together in spring 2015 to launch an innovative public-private partnership: the Pandemic Supply Chain Network (PSCN). Recognizing that a large share of the cost of a pandemic relates to supplies, and a delay in the delivery of supplies seriously compromises the effectiveness of health interventions, the PSCN focuses on comprehensive supply chain improvements.
Vision and Mission
The Pandemic Supply Chain Network signifies an important collective commitment to learn from past health crises, and to put into practice supply chain procedures, policies, and capacities that can better prepare for and ensure effective responses to future infectious disease outbreaks. There is an obligation for the international community to learn not only from the recent Ebola crisis in West Africa, but also from the world’s failure to apply lessons learned from SARS and H1N1. By focusing on supply chain logistics to support the response to large-scale health emergencies, the Network complements other efforts that are underway to strengthen national and international systems that prevent and manage future pandemics. The Network seeks to offer coordination, advice and advocacy with two functional pillars: (1) improving human and physical capacities; and (2) establishing a comprehensive information platform.
Vision: To make a safer world through pandemic preparedness and response.
Mission: To create and sustain a global supply network to address public health emergencies of international concern – both virtually and physically. The network will be able to supply vital and targeted products and equipment necessary for a public health response. It will have strategic upstream and downstream logistics capacities. It will include a supply network information system that provides overall visibility, informs intervention planning, shares lessons learned, and is based on a common approach designed to save lives.
The strength of the PSCN comes from the diversity and complementary capacities of our growing base of participants. The PSCN is made up of nearly 30 core and supporting participants representing both the public and private sector. Collectively, PSCN participants bring expertise in the fields of supply chains and logistics, humanitarian response, public health preparedness, medical supply manufacturing and distribution, information technology, and research.