As the COVID-19 pandemic looms over the world, buying medical supplies becomes a very difficult and slow process. Local companies step in to provide for part of the growing and immediate needs of health system in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Face shields, masks and gloves are the most needed goods in countries facing the COVID-19 pandemic. Medical workers and other frontline workers need these items as basic protection in the fight against the pandemic, to reduce risks while serving those infected and in the greatest need.
The United Nations in Bosnia and Herzegovina work intensively to support domestic institutions to build their capacity to fight the pandemic. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) engaged early on to support the World Health Organisation, as a lead substantive agency on the public health crisis, by procuring medical supplies and equipment. Along with researching the international markets, UNDP also reached out to local companies to find those able to produce some of the most needed medical goods.
Few days after UNDP’s call for action cooperation with the local SMEs producing face shields was established. According to “Jusri” Company owner, the launch of face shield production was made possible with contributions of three other local companies, which provided 3D model, elements and tools needed for its production. By using plastic injection technology they soon reached daily capacity of close to 3,000 face shields.
“We have the know-how, equipment and an excellent team, which is the most important thing“, says Nihad Ćulov, owner of one-year old company which employs six local persons.
“Our original goal was to produce equipment for our cantonal hospital and health centers and police in Goražde, Ustikolina and Prača. By the time we produced and donated the first 3,000 face shields, we got in touch with the UNDP and initiated cooperation. The price of one item is lower than the price of textile face mask, still yielding a profit needed to ensure sustainability of our company. UNDP is distributing face shields across the country as we couldn’t coordinate transport on our own”, concluded Ćulov.
Financed by the European Union and purchased and distributed by UNDP as part of the response to COVID-19 pandemic, 15,000 locally produced face shields have already been delivered to front line responders in all cantons, entities and Brčko District, making their daily work safer.
Other companies and organizations have also engaged in supporting their communities, by shifting their production to personal protective equipment, including 3D printed items, sanitizing liquids, and other goods. UNDP identified many of such companies and continues to invite all entrepreneurs to reach out to broaden UNDP partnership platform. An active engagement of domestic private sector will not only contribute to immediate COVID-19 response but help save jobs and companies at the time when even the strongest economies feel impact of the pandemic.
Every job saved during the pandemic will support faster recovery after the medical emergency ends. The COVID-19 pandemic is not only a massive health crisis. It is also a humanitarian and development crisis that threatens to leave deep social, economic, and political scars in the years to come, particularly for the poorest and most vulnerable countries.