In the last few weeks, our mode of delivery has changed but our work to increase access to medicine for those most in need is more important than ever. Our CEO Adele Paterson gives an update on recent developments – watch out for interviews with our team and partners in coming weeks. We’re deeply grateful for your support.


Q: IHP has responded to many disasters in the last 15 years. How is it responding to Covid-19?

A: Typically, we respond quickly and in a clear way, understanding how long we will remain involved. Covid-19 is a disaster with no clear exit strategy, and everybody is affected: not only vulnerable individuals, but also donors, product manufacturers, colleagues, and wider networks. The global and all-encompassing nature of this event means our ability to respond has to change, because of the vast needs and impacts arising.


Q: How is Covid-19 changing the work IHP does?

A: What we do now takes longer because of blockages in the supply chain, export restrictions and the diversion of funds from core health programmes towards Covid-19. I’ve been encouraged to see financial donors become increasingly flexible. It’s clear that they recognise the value of the frontline work that we enable our partners to deliver, and it’s good that we are beginning to understand the impacts of Covid-19 beyond our own communities.


Q: As we focus on helping people with Covid-19 in the UK, does that change what you do?

A: Our donors and supporters need to focus on immediate concerns relating to families, organisations and countries in which they operate. It's been good to see a huge outpouring of support from the pharmaceutical industry to support our health systems, and tremendous encouragement for healthcare professionals to deliver needed, lifesaving healthcare. It’s great to see companies thinking of new ways to help people suffering, directly or indirectly, the effects of Covid-19. At the same time, we’re aware of growing needs of those in the most vulnerable communities we support. Last week, we’ve sent needed products to assist programmes in DRC and West Bank, areas experiencing not only the impact of Covid-19 but also long-term conflict, depleted resources and lack of access to medicines.


Q: What are the challenges of Covid-19 for communities you work with?

A: Individuals and families in overcrowded refugee camps and underserved communities will not be able to engage in social distancing because they lack access to space and water in their homes. Daily necessities of life mean these people will continue to spend time in close proximity. In addition, the diversion of resources to help those with Covid-19 will threaten long-term health programmes supporting those with non-communicable diseases such as cancer, and maternal and child health. From the start of this crisis, we’ve been very clear that we want to enable our partners to continue providing these vital services, so people with other problems can still get essential medicines.


Q: There is no cure for Covid-19, an illness caused by a virus. What difference will IHP’s medicines make in these communities?

A: As with other disasters, we’re focused on building longer-term support for systems and people. As well as providing medicines for today, IHP is committed to improving underlying health in the most vulnerable communities and enabling in-country partners to develop programming beyond disaster response. By supporting them with gifts of long-dated and needed medicines in a very efficient and cost-effective way, we help free up funding for partners to invest in broader, needed programming. During Covid-19, if in-country partners don’t have to spend so much on medicines, they can invest in education about hand-washing or new medical equipment. When we use donations of medicines and products strategically, we help vulnerable communities prepare for the future and we can lessen the impact of Covid-19.


Q: Why should I support IHP when there’s so much need in the UK?

A: IHP’s model is hugely cost effective, with every £1 donated releasing up to £10 of medicines. We have a small army of faithful supporters who are making a difference in this way. Our long-term partners need an ongoing supply of essential medicines, and we are committed to getting more than 20 shipments to them in countries identified by the UN as being most vulnerable to infectious diseases. There are opportunities to help fund a number of shipments. We’d also love to hear from companies making products: we hold a wholesale dealer licence, have a very strong quality-management system and can offer companies a reliable way to manage donations. We can direct these to fulfil huge needs for antibiotics, painkillers, antifungals and other medicines, including complex medicines for longer-term conditions. Most of all, we want to keep supporting the most vulnerable communities and help them to create resilience. Going forward, your support and advocacy on our behalf will make a huge difference.



Logistically, we’ve seen bottlenecks and there’s been a lessening of capacity for air freight and sea containers.



In programmes,
we’re working to deliver 20 shipments of needed medicines to support existing health needs. We’re talking closely with partners about the impact of Covid-19 on their work - some are reporting funding being diverted from core programmes to focus on COVID-19 capacity. We are compiling a COVID-19-specific needs lists from partners.




We will be approaching corporate partners to explore their capacity to support vulnerable communities, the pandemic in UK, Europe and US has been brought under control. 




Health systems are breaking down in the most vulnerable countries as they juggle the dual burden of managing the COVID-19 pandemic and dealing with their already overwhelming healthcare needs.

We need your support more than ever to ensure medicines get to where they are needed. Donate today.

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