COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted access to medicines for noncommunicable diseases

March 22, 2023
New WHO report.

The World Health Organization published a new report Access to NCD medicines: emergent issues during the COVID-19 pandemic and key structural factors to highlight the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on access to noncommunicable disease (NCD) medicines, and the policies and strategies implemented by countries to anticipate and mitigate stresses across NCD medicine supply chains.

During the pandemic, people living with cancer, heart diseases, chronic respiratory diseases, diabetes and other NCDs experienced difficulties in accessing their routine medicines. This report reviewed the impact of the pandemic on NCD medicines from manufacturing, procurement, importation, to delivery, availability and affordability.

Numerous pharmaceutical supply chains were affected in different ways and to varying extents. The report also provides considerations for the key stakeholders in the NCD pharmaceutical supply chain, including governments, regulatory authorities, manufacturers, and the private sector, as well as directions for future research toward improved supply chain resilience.

There is an urgent need to improve the transparency of the overall pharmaceutical information ecology as a foundation for pandemic planning and response: if we are unable to identify weaknesses in the global NCD supply chain, we cannot hope to mend them. Without effective monitoring, transparent data, it is difficult to identify weaknesses in the global NCD supply chain. This requires countries to look at its supply chain, strengthen and expand medicine shortage notification systems, build flexibility in its regulatory measures and minimize barriers to trade.

WHO release

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