India COVID-19 Procurement : Challenges, Innovations, and Lessons (English)

This working paper documents the challenges, innovations, and lessons in the procurement of essential medical commodities during the first wave of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in India. COVID-19 created unprecedented shortages of essential medical supplies and equipment due to the sudden surge in demand. Severe global supply chain constraints of essential COVID commodities and unprecedented demand for lifesaving equipment led to an entirely supplier-driven market and huge variation in prices. To address this concern, the government of India took over the responsibility for centralized procurement to support the states. Flexible conditions were permitted under the existing legal frameworks and budgets to undertake fast-track procurement, while empowered groups helped to accelerate decision making. Initially, this enabled accelerated imports, and over time, the development of local markets, based on a whole-of-government approach. This led to the development of specific standards, sourcing appropriate raw material, ensuring availability of workforce, and maintaining efficient supply chains to deliver finished products in a timely manner to state governments, depending on assessed need. Handholding the industry; accelerated tendering; and pre dispatch inspections by competent agencies, including testing of random samples, helped to ensure quality of products. In addition to enhanced access, this initiative also helped to steeply bring down the prices of essential COVID supplies. A unique feature seen in India was the active role played by the private sector in testing, contributing to nearly 50 percent of laboratories and in the raising of additional resources by venture capital firms to support domestic manufacturing of COVID commodities. The COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health Systems Strengthening Project - jointly financed by the World Bank and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) supported these initiatives through hands-on procurement support and capacity-building. Flexibility in emergency procurement using country procedures during the peak ensured timely availability of COVID commodities.



Ramana,Gandham N.V., Nair,Dinesh M., Mohammed,Suresh Kunhi, Kumar,Sanjeet, Lal,Shanker

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