Helping the Nepal government meet the demands for life saving hospital equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic
The world has been dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic since December 2019. In Nepal, the first case was reported in January 2020.
Since then, the country’s health system has had to quickly adapt and procure emergency medical goods and equipment to meet the demands for life saving equipment in hospitals.
Since the start of the pandemic, Options’ UK aid-funded Nepal Health Sector Support Programme (NHSSP) has been supporting the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) and Department of Health Services (DoHS) in this procurement process in order to ensure transparency and value for money of procurement whilst delivering a rapid response.
As part of this process, NHSSP procurement team has worked with biomedical engineers and laboratory technicians to help the DoHS identify what, and how much, equipment will be needed to manage COVID-19 cases.
This included identifying how many oxygen generation plants were available or operating in hospitals across Nepal and to report the pipeline status of new plants. The NHSSP biomedical engineer found that there were oxygen generation plants operating in 45 Nepal public and private hospitals including medical colleges in normal situation.
NHSSP's Biomedical Engineer, Padma Mishra, highlighted the challenge during emergency context saying that "in the current pandemic situation, the use of oxygen suddenly raised and the normal infrastructure of oxygen plant wasn’t enough as hospitals were not prepared for this crisis. The lesson learned from this pandemic is while planning for the procurement of the plant, we should not only calculate the current consumption in fact we should try to go for more capacity than the required consumption".
The NHSSP team has also worked closely with the WHO to forecast and identify how much health commodities such as personal protective equipment (PPE) items, medicines, test kits, disinfectants etc. were needed by quarantine and holding centers for Nepalis returning from India. They helped to prepare a plan to distribute commodities procured by the Department of Health Services (DoHS), the army as well as development partners and NGOs to the provinces and local levels.
An important part of the procurement process is having standard specifications and guidelines to ensure that the right equipment is purchased without delay. NHSSP helped to develop these guidelines, thus enabling swift procurement of equipment with appropriate specifications.
Our support and the teams’ expertise on best practices of medical procurement and on a rapid assessment of the situation at a time of need, has increased the capacity of government counterparts and helped to ensure the quality of procurement.