Supply chains save lives

Unlocking access for children, their families and communities

A boy and a girl opening supply packages


During the COVID-19 pandemic it became widely understood that strong supply chains have the power to save lives.

Many countries face a myriad of challenges in their supply chain systems including limited data visibility, financing challenges, fragmented procurement processes, and limited warehousing, storage and distribution challenges. These are further compounded by an inadequately staffed and skilled supply chain workforce.  These bottlenecks limit the availability of products, trigger service interruptions and undermine the safety of recipient communities, particularly hard-to-reach populations.  For example, in 2021, five million children globally missed out on basic vaccines, 13.6 million children under the age of 5 suffered from severe wasting, and 698 million lacked basic sanitation services at school.

The pandemic underlined that we depend on resilient supply chains to ensure uninterrupted delivery and scale-up of health, nutrition, education, and water, hygiene and sanitation services.

Bridging the gap

The publication “Supply chains saves lives” presents evidence that closer multi-stakeholder coordination, increased government financing capacity and enhanced data visibility and digitalization can bridge the gap in access so that the life-saving supplies and services reach the children they are meant to protect.

It outlines eight recommendations to overcome supply chain barriers and accelerate children’s access to the supplies and treatments they need.

  1. Accelerate access to reliable supply chain data and technology to support decision-making;
  2. Promote supply chain environmental, social and economic sustainability;
  3. Strengthen service delivery systems and quality of care all the way to the last mile;
  4. Increase public financing for supplies and reforming fiscal policies;
  5. Support local production and manufacturing of supplies, including through market-shaping;
  6. Enhance governance, private sector involvement and multi-partner coordination;
  7. Invest in supply chain workforce development; and
  8. Foster and strengthen global partnerships in a post-pandemic future.

These interventions are essential to support governments as they strive to strengthen their supply chains and provide children, their families and communities with access to the quality health, nutrition, education and WASH products and services they deserve.

Cover page of the report
UNICEF Supply Division
Publication date