OECS strengthens preparedness for COVID-19

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CASTRIES, St Lucia — The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) partnered with USAID’s Global Health Supply Chain – Procurement and Supply Management (GHSC-PSM) programme, to host a workshop on Emergency Supply Chain (ESC) preparedness in Saint Lucia from February 12-13, 2020.

The two-day workshop sought to develop and strengthen operational plans for responding to outbreaks of infectious diseases in the region such as the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The working sessions covering scenarios for different disease outbreaks, key staff members of the Commission in Saint Lucia included the OECS Pharmaceutical Procurement Service (PPS), were trained to manage the response, procurement and provision of health supplies during emergency situations.

The sessions also implemented a set of ‘Playbook’ materials that provided guidance on preparatory measures that can be taken to optimise operating procedures for the management of health supplies during emergencies.

“We are looking across the entire emergency supply chain, starting from people and processes all the way through to commodity planning, transport, logistics, waste management and also specifically looking at after the emergency has happened transitioning back to the routine situation,”  said workshop facilitator and GHSC-PSM consultant, Dr Rhyenne M. E. Zimmerman of McKinsey&Company.

Dr Carlene Radix, head of health and acting head of the human and social cluster at the OECS Commission, highlighted the timeliness of the training given the Coronavirus outbreak but noted that plans for the specialised workshop were underway for the better part of a year as the region sought to improve its emergency preparedness mechanisms.

“There was a regional workshop held last May in Jamaica in which four OECS Member States participated and three of those Member States, along with the OECS Commission made requests for specific in-country training to be done and, at the Commission, on a regional level,” Dr Radix said.

“The timing is very good because we know that right now we have a global outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus and this process can help. But certainly, this training will also help prepare for other outbreaks that come up in the region – emerging diseases such as Zika, Chikungunya, and outbreaks that we have post-disasters.”

The Emergency Supply Chain (ESC) preparedness workshop was sponsored by USAID.

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