Medical items in short supply

Surgical gloves and other medical supplies
Surgical gloves and other medical supplies (Photo credit: Tara Winstead)

There is a worldwide shortage of important medical supplies that limits the distribution of some items in Jamaica’s public hospitals. In a media release on Thursday 5 May, it was reported that the items in short supply include gloves, tapes, and sutures (surgical threads). But regional director of the South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA), Errol Greene, shared that if any shortage is reported, attempts are made to source the items. He also said there is, “a general shortage of some supplies,” like those from the National Health Fund (NHF).

The United States of America (USA) is also experiencing a shortage in medical supplies because of backlogged ports, transportation problems and the lockdowns in China to prevent the spread of Covid-19. News reports state that factories in Shenzhen and Shanghai have been closed. Medical devices and supplies are manufactured in both of these cities in China and so the closure has affected doctors’ offices and hospitals across the USA.

According to news releases, Medline, a large American medical supply company has reported that, “due to industry wide supply disruptions, stockpiling has become essential for healthcare resilience.” The company has developed five new distribution centres across the country to deal with the low supply of medical items.

Another American company, Owens & Minor, a healthcare logistics firm reported, “forty-five per cent of the items that it handles are in some way supply-constrained.” Some of these items include, hypodermic needles and flush syringes, IV solutions and wound care items.

Meanwhile in Jamaica, Greene noted that the shortage of medical supplies will not hinder service at the hospitals, because cases of limited supply will be replaced with items from the NHF or the open markets.


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