Diplocraft: Medical Supply Chain Resilience

On February 17th, the Meridian Center for Diplomatic Engagement hosted a virtual roundtable discussion on how governments can work with key industry partners to improve the resiliency and security of medical supply chains and distribution networks. The interactive briefing focused on the regulatory frameworks needed to support sustainable supply chains and how countries can invest in future preparedness.

Moderated by Dartmouth College Associate Professor Emily Blanchard, the program featured 3M Executive Vice President Michael G. Vale, Amgen Director of International Government Affairs Monica He, and ServiceNow CIO Chris Bedi.

In case you missed it, below are the top takeaways from the conversation:

1. A BALANCING ACT OF SHORT- AND LONG-TERM NEEDS. As countries race to vaccinate their citizens and meet the surging demand for medical supplies, governments have been demonstrating a new willingness to favor protectionist policies. Striking the balance between tackling short- and long-term concerns is crucial. Speakers favored policies that focus on sustained recovery and cautioned against quick, but short-lived gains. While it is important to address the more immediate needs, it is also an opportunity to address the structural vulnerabilities that the pandemic has exposed and make investments that can mitigate future crises.

2. INVESTING IN HEATH SECURITY. No healthcare system in the world was prepared for the size and scale of the COVID-19 pandemic. And as we look ahead to recovery and consider lessons learned, speakers emphasized the importance of policies aimed at building a health system that is better able to adapt and respond to health shocks. While preparedness is an imperfect and continuous process, it is essential. 3M’s white paper outlines the importance of investing in future preparedness and the regulatory flexibility needed to better facilitate the global flow of essential supplies through the trade and supply chain. Furthermore, governments can mitigate the impacts of future disruptions and build long term resilience by investing in healthy ageing and preventative care.

3. PARTNERSHIPS THAT STRENGTHEN PUBLIC HEALTH. A crisis of this scale has accelerated the need for cross-sectoral collaboration and communication. Public-private partnerships leverage the innovation and expertise of both sectors and are essential to recovery. These strategic partnerships strengthen the public health response and highlight the ways in which the private sector can support governments and provide recommendations.

4. LAST MILE CHALLENGES. The development and production of COVID-19 vaccines was a historic and remarkable success story. Now, the challenge for 2021 is the race to vaccinate. The sheer magnitude and scale of the task has pushed traditional supply and distribution channels to new limits and will require a transformational coordination and integration effort. In this regard, tech companies, like ServiceNow, are stepping in with digital solutions that are flexible and can be implemented quickly. Utilizing its workflow technology to simplify vaccine management, ServiceNow aims to solve the last mile challenges of vaccine distribution, administration, and monitoring.

5. PROTECTING INNOVATION. Protecting intellectual property rights is critical to ensuring healthcare innovation and resilience. Countries that have strong intellectual property enforcement are the same who have been leading the way on COVID-19 vaccines and therapies. Furthermore, it does not need to compromise access or equity. A top U.S. foreign policy priority, intellectual property rights ensures that the small companies driving biomedical innovation are protected.


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