The international Covid crisis has resulted in social, economic, and health risks. The World Bank is working to ensure that there is a flexible and fast response to the pandemic. For this, it is providing a whole spectrum of aid ranging, from financial and technical to healthcare and policy advice. Yet, there has been a significant difference between the planned relief action and the achieved one. This is due to unforeseen barriers that have made procurement intelligence a necessary skill set to have. Before we explore the barrier, its effects and respite from it; we need to know about the major emergency supplies that are needed in the affected areas of the world.


What are the necessary supplies that are most in-demand during the pandemic?

Numerous client countries have requested the support of the World Bank in procuring medical products. Such emergency supplies include medicines along with other hospital amenities like gowns, masks, oxygen tanks, hospital beds, respirators, and ambulances.

Along with this, the demand for consultancy services is also high.After all, there is an ongoing effort to improve public awareness and develop the necessary medical protocols since multiple hospitals don’t have the necessary capacity or organization to manage new cases while preventing intra-hospital spread.


What challenges are affecting fast-track procurement?

The demand for the above-stated emergency services and products are rising in major Covid affected places in the world. As a result, procurement processes have also been sped up through streamlined procedures within the existing frameworks. Yet, this fast-tracking has resulted in a lack of transparency. There have been complaints of substandard materials and unregulated prices. A lot of this stems from inexperienced medical suppliers.

Along with this, there are other challenges plaguing procurement specialists. Such issues include border closings, worker absences, border delays, disrupted supply chains, and lack of coordinated government efforts. It should be noted that procurement specialists are also managing everyday projects in a variety of sectors from home. Due to this, coordination and implementation speeds have slowed down. Additionally, it has put greater pressure on assistants, staff, and other counterparts. Finding solutions and working well with a team has become exponentially difficult in this global challenge.


Is market irregulation adding to the troubles?

Specialists are working with various service and resource providers to ensure smooth supply of products. But, one of the major barriers in front of this is the condition of the wider market itself. Normally, the market automatically self-corrects. But, these are not normal times, and so services, goods, and the trained workforce needed to contain this pandemic aren’t readily available. Such lack has resulted in price inflation since the demand has exceeded supply. It must be accepted that right now, there is no means to correct the market automatically, and neither is there a global regulation to address such failures.


How are procurement specialists facing these challenges?

Procurement specialists are working 24/7 with global procurement services, banks, and government counterparts to ensure effective project implementations. Such professionals are implementing streamlined methods to prevent irregularities. They are also mapping the supply chains, collecting relevant information from second and third sources, and monitoring purchase. It must be kept in mind that specialists are advising various countries on the proper ways and means of taking action. But, there’s a possibility of contracts getting terminated or delayed due to actions and forces that are out of anyone’s control.


Is the World Bank addressing these issues?

The World Bank has put out multiple methods to tackle this procurement crisis. These include:


  1. Fast-Track Facility: A Fast-Track Facility for Covid. It has guidance notes, templates, and measures to prevent delays. Due to this, client governments will be able to choose from multiple simplified and streamlined processes and avail retroactive financing for 40% of their project amount. They will also enjoy quick disbursements from the private sector. Note that this depends on the predicament of the country.
  2. Regional focal points: These focal points for Covid are being regulated to provide support and guidance to the staff in charge of preparing the emergency projects. Due to this, multiple first-round projects have been prepared within a very short time for decision-making.
  3. Hands-on Expanded Implementation Support: The bank also offers HEIS or Hands-on Expanded Implementation Support for all levels of procurement. Clients will be able to get help for everything from supplier identification to bidding and from contract negotiations to signing. Aid will also be provided for monitoring and implementation.
  4. Emergency Care Research Institution: Along with the above, the bank has also started the Emergency Care Research Institution for carrying out market research on a variety of medical goods. This list is updated regularly and shows the availability of WHO-recommended medical and health supplies.
  5. UN agencies: Borrowers will be able to procure using UN agencies as well. The bank templates and procedures will enable them to do this.
  6. Virtual meetings: All meetings are being carried out virtually now. From global procurement services to the government authorities, the staff is working with them is using Skype or phone. Guidance, support, advice, and aid are provided through such means as well. Procurement officers all over meet using these virtual means to discuss strategies and exchange information. Regular meetings are carried out between different departments to ensure that everyone is one the same wavelength.


Has the bank figured out any long-term approach?

The World Bank has thought of phases to approach this pandemic. These are:


  1. The first approach involves a minute focus on the medical and health aspects. This involves ensuring that there are adequate tools and facilities to treat new cases and existing infected patients.
  2. The second approach involves focusing on the social and economic implications of the pandemic. All the planned work revolves around aiding countries. It is to ensure that they can develop effective and credible systems to continue activities and processes.
  3. The bank has promised to improve and refine the use of its data collection, analysis, and technology. This is to ensure that proactive assistance and support is provided to those countries which require assistance.


The pandemic has thrown the entire world into unprecedented situations. In this hour, there’s an intense need for medical personnel, gear, and support. But the various channels and suppliers are irregular and failing. In such a situation, specialists need to make use of procurement intelligence to ensure that clients get the resources they need. The World Bank is planning, implementing steps as well as creating agencies to ensure that countries in need get the aid they need.

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