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Healthcare supply chain reactivity and solidarity during the crisis

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Published on Wednesday, 17 June 2020

The new LCL Conversation Series, focusing on the impact of COVID-19 on Supply Chains in a variety of economic sectors, kicked off on June 9th with an international webinar on the all-important Healthcare sector.

Expert speakers from Luxembourg in Healthcare administration and supply chain management, as well as in pharmaceutical and PPE (personal protective equipment) transportation logistics and supply chains shared success stories of reactivity, courage, and solidarity in managing during the pandemic crisis. A sharp contrast was drawn to the more chaotic and uneven situation in the United States, as explained by an American academic Health Policy expert from the University of Texas at Austin.

The Administrative Director of Hopitaux Robert Schuman in Luxembourg, Michel Schuetz, along with his colleagues Romain Labé and Cédric Zawarski, Supply Chain Managers, showcased the industrial-scale operation mounted in solidarity to quickly adapt processes and innovate in supply chain channels and inventory management.

In shaking up the status quo to avoid being "another Italy, another Bergamo", the mantra was "asking for forgiveness is sometimes easier than asking for permission." The major lesson learned from vanquishing the crisis is that sourcing models and strategic stocks need to be "future-proofed" for the next crisis. On the transportation side, Stavros Evangelakakis, Head of Global Healthcare for Cargolux Airlines, Luxembourg's all-freight carrier, highlighted the essential role the airline played in supporting fluid supply chains of pharmaceutical products and PPE through their continuous flying from sourcing countries like China to countries in need like Italy. Whereas passenger air traffic plunged due to confinement measures and border closings to fight the spread of the virus, global air freighter capacity remained mostly stable, thanks to the need to transport essential goods.

In contrast to Luxembourg, a bleak picture of the failures of the American healthcare system, or rather "non-existing" system, and of American health policy was clearly shown by Professor William M. Sage of the UT Austin School of Law and the Dell Medical School. Instead of acting in solidarity, hospitals across the U.S. were in competition with one another for the supply of PPE and ventilators, and the inequality between "rich" (private) and "poor" (public) hospitals, mirroring the state of American society, drove a wedge into the fight against the virus. The U.S. government was "a decent bank but a poor manager" and illustrated the limits and inefficiencies of an overweight private "hand" in the U.S. healthcare arena.

Much as the European Union needs to level the playing field for healthcare supply chains and delivery across its member states, "Health Justice" needs to be at the core of future United States health reform.

Please find below the presentations:

Robert Schuman Hospitals Group LCL presentation

University of Texas in Austin LCL presentation

Cargolux presentation

 

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