“Some countries’ health systems are simply not equipped to cope with the burden of a natural disaster, a conflict, or a crisis brought on by the insurgence of a virus, such as the Covid-19 pandemic.”
LIVES are being put at risk because many countries remain woefully unequipped to cope with the burden of a natural disaster.
Procurement specialist Shameet Thakkar has overseen the delivery of vital resources to 44 countries worldwide in disaster relief interventions.
His lifeline work has seen the organisation source and deliver emergency trauma packs and diagnostic kits. But as humanitarian crises rage in areas like Ukraine and Turkey, Shameet warns much more help is needed.
He said: “Some countries’ health systems are simply not equipped to cope with the burden of a natural disaster, a conflict, or a crisis brought on by the insurgence of a virus, such as the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Countries that are already experiencing poverty, disease control and ongoing humanitarian crises may simply not be able to cope with the additional strain. This perfectly showcases the importance of emergency healthcare procurement.
“Health is a fundamental human right. Nothing is more valuable than effectively protecting the health and wellbeing of populations, yet an astonishing number of people across the globe don’t benefit from the security of a strong health system capable of addressing their needs.
“Global health equity is threatened by limited access to resources and lack of resilience within healthcare systems in a number of countries, with many struggling to access even basic medicines and services.
“And strong health systems should provide much more than that, offering complete health protection in the form of diagnostic and prevention, as well as treatment and control of illnesses and diseases.”
According to the World Health Organisation, around half of the world’s population cannot obtain essential health services. And Unimed is amongst those fighting to change what seems like nothing short of an unacceptable figure, striving to increasing equity in healthcare with an innovative, ethical procurement model.
Having founded Unimed based on the strong belief that everyone should have access to healthcare no matter who they are and where they live, Shameet said he is keen to make an impact by changing the world of healthcare procurement.
He continued: “Unimed is a company with a purpose. We strive to help reduce systemic inequalities in the world of healthcare with our work, and we are keen to show just how vital the role of procurement is.
“I have witnessed first-hand the negative impact of ineffective, outdated procurement practices. Healthcare procurement can’t be about profit. Ultimately, we should prioritise the needs of those receiving the products, and help the organisations that provide aid to them.”
Shameet started his journey within healthcare procurement at a female empowerment charity providing contraception and other vital products and services, and saw women in need being turned away due to lack of stock, in spite of funding being available.
“The charity was experiencing supply chain shortages, but didn’t know how to overcome these challenges,” he says.
“Being located in Uganda, they relied on the services of Ugandan wholesalers, meaning they had limited access to the products they needed, with quality assurance processes and delivery services often not being fit for purpose.”
Learning from the issues experienced by the charity, Shameet founded Unimed with a mission to knock down the barriers preventing purpose-led NGOs and charities from effectively supporting targeted communities and individuals in desperate need of assistance.
“I identified a fundamental need to solve procurement inefficiencies by shaking up existing healthcare procurement practices. Procuring to support populations in need means finding bespoke, innovative and secure solutions to supply products in line with their needs, and often under difficult circumstances.
“This is why we strive to simplify procurement, acting as a single source of responsibility for charities, NGOs and aid and development organisations, amongst many others.
“We want to take away the burden of managing manufacturers and suppliers to relieve pressure from those organisations that are fighting to safeguard and improve the quality of life of populations in need.”
He added: “Increasing equitable access to healthcare means increasing resilience in healthcare systems around the world, and to do so, there’s an essential need to shift our focus from treatment to prevention, and acting proactively instead of reactively.
“Prevention brings us closer to building stability within our health systems. Having the necessary diagnostic equipment and prevention services in place means the need for emergency medicines and supplies will naturally decrease.
“It would allow for the spread of diseases to slow and mortality to be reduced, and managing the effects of illnesses or diseases will naturally become easier thanks to early detection.”
Unimed strives to promote this message, showing that there’s an intrinsic link between prevention and building resilience in healthcare – and by extension, facilitating our journey to a more equitable future for healthcare.
"There’s no room for complacency within healthcare procurement. We want to inspire others to change their mindset and way of operating to enable charities and impactful organisations to more easily protect populations and communities in need and truly make a difference.
“We look forward to continuing along what we believe to be a journey of extraordinary importance for our world.”