Even before the COVID-19 crisis broke, an estimated two billion people already had unreliable access to what the WHO refers to as ‘essential medicines’, undermining healthcare provision and costing lives.  

 

IHP has focused its COVID-19 response on working to strengthen some of the world’s weakest health systems that lack on-going access to chronic, essential and life-saving products. We have also focused on the most vulnerable communities, especially those living in areas with high population densities, including refugee camps and internally displaced persons camps, where crowded living conditions make social distancing near impossible.

It has been a challenge for IHP and its partners to respond to the scale of the need, overcoming disruptions to supply chains and logistics and adapting to meet the needs of our partners as they responded to support new priorities and needs. This makes the scale of response all the more remarkable: the treatments sent in 2020 represent a 4-fold increase on 2019.

 

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Our response

In early February IHP responded to a request from one of its NGO partners, Project Hope, in China, asking for Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). In total eight pallets (9,000 face masks and 1,785 overalls) were donated for use in Shanghai Children’s Medical Centre, a tertiary children’s hospital, with 1,000 beds and a fever clinic, and Hubei Provincial Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in Wuhan City.

An export ban combined with a lack of donated supplies limited IHP’s ability to continue to distribute donated PPE. This meant, that for the first time in IHP’s history, we distributed product within the UK, releasing the PPE we did have in stock for use at Airedale General Hospital, Keighley in West Yorkshire. During the UK ban, we also used our logistical expertise to facilitate the global transportation of available PPE from an NGO partner in the US to our partner in Lebanon and were thankful that PPE which had been exported prior to the ban, was being used by in-country partners in their COVID-19 responses. Thankfully, the export ban has now been lifted.

In April, we launched a COVID-19 fundraising appeal, and we were overwhelmed by the response from individual givers, funders and corporate partners. In total, we raised over £290,000; enabling us to keep the supply of essential medicines flowing, despite the pandemic.

Medical understanding of how to best manage and treat COVID-19 symptoms and common co-infections and complications has grown rapidly since the start of the pandemic. IHP was, and continues to be, responsive to these changes. As well as antibiotics for the treatment of co-infections (especially pneumonia and sepsis), paracetamol for pain relief and to bring down fever, and treatment for cardiovascular and other complications, we have also provided vital health supplies such as catheters, syringes and syringe drivers.

Meanwhile, we also continued to provide a broad range of quality, donated medicines and health supplies, to help build the underlying health of targeted communities. Products shipped included medicines for chronic health problems such as diabetes and hypertension, as well as for communicable diseases and parasites that weaken the health and resilience of those affected.

The repercussions of the pandemic on the livelihoods of millions has been, and continues to be, one of the most worrying side effects of this crisis. IHP’s model of providing medicines free at the point of use, via our trusted network of partners, has become a lifeline for many. Financial resources that would otherwise be used to purchase needed medicines, can now be used for food and other livelihood needs.

Providing donated medicines has reduced expenditure at a time of reduced resources for both NGO partners and government health care facilities, as already stretched budgets, were repurposed to purchase PPE, initiate health education and hygiene initiatives, and provide treatment for COVID-19 patients.

Looking ahead

Our COVID-19 response is far from over. It is unlikely that the majority of the world’s population will be able to access COVID-19 vaccines in 2021. There will be excess deaths because of both the direct and indirect effects of COVID-19 on global health over the coming year.

During this time, we will:

  • Work with pharmaceutical and supplies companies to encourage an increased supply of donated medicines.
  • Support any needs for vaccination programme preparedness, which may include delivering vital supplies such as syringes and PPE.
  • Source reliable access to healthcare products used to treat the symptoms, comorbidities and complications associated with COVID-19.
  • Seek donated medicines for chronic underlying health conditions, such as hypertension and diabetes which increase vulnerability to this pandemic.

With such broad-reaching implications for global health, IHP’s work is needed now more than ever.

 

Thank you

IHP’s ability to provide a wide range of medical aid, from PPE to medications intended for chronic diseases, would not have been possible without in-kind and financial donations from our healthcare partners, funders, individual givers or our valued logistics partners.

IHP is deeply grateful for all your generosity and commitment.

Please help us continue to source and distribute essential medicines, and to go the extra mile to make sure that medicines reach people in need. You can donate here now or click an amount below.