Supply Alert: Navigating continuous supply chain disruptions

19 May 2021

The procurement of sexual and reproductive health supplies is facing a volatile freight market. Uncertain lead times and unstable service levels are directly affecting the overall operational performance of the sexual and reproductive health supply chains. 

The COVID-19 lockdown in India is directly impacting some of the UNFPA suppliers. Indian ports are currently still reporting normal operations for the export of containers. Nevertheless, 3-4 week delays are still observed for export booking confirmation. Longer and more complex transit times for air freight shipments are also expected.

Here is a summary of the disruptions by category affecting UNFPA suppliers in India:

  • Condoms: Two of UNFPA's condom suppliers are affected. One is temporarily closing its sites that manufacture male and female condoms. For this reason and on a case-by-case basis, UNFPA recommended self-inspection and sampling of condoms to be conducted by this supplier. This measure will help in speeding up the shipment process. The other supplier will continue to operate at 60% capacity until the end of the lockdown (expected at least until the end of May). An additional two suppliers are manufacturing as per the current lead times. UNFPA estimates a continued increase in the prices of raw materials (latex, silicone oil and foil) used for the manufacturing of condoms and lubricants.
  • Injectable contraceptives: One of the two UNFPA suppliers had temporarily closed down the warehouse but reopened in week 19. The supplier is working with essential staff only which may result in slight delays. 
  • Oral contraceptives: One of the four UNFPA suppliers faces challenges due to restricted personnel mobility. The supplier expects some delays in the deliveries. None of the suppliers expect issues in the production nor interruption in the supply. Despite the different challenges, suppliers are striving to minimise any delays to ensure smooth execution of UNFPA shipments.
  • Reproductive health kits: A supplier’s warehouse was closed for a couple of weeks but reopened. There is limited staff working in the warehouse and most of the personnel is working from home. Currently, the containers have moved as per the agreed schedule. Still, UNFPA might expect delays if the situation does not improve in India. Part of the pre-shipment inspection of some kit items for one supplier needed to be performed in another country (and not the kitting site) due to COVID-19 restrictions and in anticipation of the kitting site closing down. The kit items were relocated to Dubai for inspection. This resulted in applying a risk assessment strategy to inspection to avoid delays in shipment.
  • Pharmaceuticals: One UNFPA supplier is working almost at full capacity, however it reports issues in material availability due to vendors facing challenges. Overall, the disruptions faced by this supplier have been minor, as it manufactures multiple critical COVID-19 drugs and falls under essential service in India. Another supplier is affected by 20% less staff and operating at a lower strength. This supplier expects a small delay in responses or committed deliveries. The manufacturing facilities of a third supplier have been impacted. Some of its sites underwent short shutdowns in the last weeks. However, the supplier is not facing any challenges on raw materials as of now.
  • IUDs: The production capacity of UNFPA's IUD suppliers in the country is not suffering delays. UNFPA expects extended lead time associated with the exceptional surveillance testing of IUDs in one laboratory located in India. This may impact the timeline for the release and distribution of products that are quarantined and pending quality control testing. 
  • Water-based lubricants: There is an increase in demand for personal lubricants manufactured by a supplier in India (currently the sole supplier of lubricants in tubes). Even though the site is not closed, UNFPA expects delayed shipments due to the COVID-19 restrictions. The UNFPA Quality Assurance team will work on pre-shipment inspections together with the supplier to reduce the lead times of shipments.

For more information please contact us at procurement@unfpa.org.

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