Giving Compass' Take:

• Taiwan and South Korea are responding to COVID-19 through public-private collaborations that are helping to distribute health products.

• What can U.S. donors learn from these partnerships to help strengthen the crisis response? 

• Read more about coronavirus for donors. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has posed unprecedented challenges in the distribution of health products to those in need. Price surges and gouging practices have made many products newly unaffordable, particularly to vulnerable populations. Travel restrictions intended to reduce COVID-19 transmission have constrained distribution of essential medicine. People with special needs and chronic conditions have been further disadvantaged as supply chains for medicine and essential products are disrupted by lockdowns and panic buying.

Across the globe, rapidly scalable innovations in distribution are urgently needed to ensure high-quality, essential products are available, accessible, and affordable for all. In the early stages of the pandemic, governments in Taiwan and South Korea launched a number of efforts to ensure widespread and fast access. In our research we found that many government initiatives that scaled quickly included strong collaboration with private enterprises. Their joint efforts addressed three major areas of a crisis response to the wide-scale provision of health products: increasing manufacturing volume, changing policies to ensure widespread consumer access, and optimizing and coordinating distribution.

As nations grapple with getting health products to those who need them to bring COVID-19 under control, the early efforts in Taiwan and South Korea may offer valuable lessons.

  1. Ramping Up Manufacturing Volume
  2. Changing Policies to Ensure Widespread Consumer Access
  3. Optimizing and Coordinating Distribution

Our findings suggest that the prompt response to the challenges of health product access can be enabled by creative cooperation between public and private sectors. As innovations in health product distribution continue to emerge in North America, Africa, Britain, Southeast Asia, and beyond, it is critical for private companies to ask how they might leverage their own strengths and the strengths of municipal, local, and national governments to accelerate progress.

Read the full article about public-private collaborations by Yuen Wai Hung, Marina Cortes and Mara Hansen Staples at Stanford Social Innovation Review.