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4 May 2020

4 Ways the COVID-19 Pandemic Will Change the Global Health Sector

In its midst, the COVID-19 pandemic has sparked debate as to what type of world will be left in the wake of the crisis. Will the eventual relaxation of physical distancing measures elicit a return to normality, or perhaps, redefine and yield a new understanding of what is ‘normal’?

In health terms, the pandemic has magnified pre-existing health inequalities throughout the global health sector and widened the socio-economic gaps experienced in developing nations relative to the developed world. In a post-pandemic system, it is hoped the lessons divulged from the world’s handling of the virus will translate into meaningful action to combat these persistent issues and transition towards a resilient and inclusive global health structure.

This sentiment has been encapsulated by the global health community, for example, Médecins Sans Frontières noted; “As shown by the pandemic, a large majority of people have no access to quality healthcare. After the pandemic, [we] hope global health will be characterized by access to quality care for all.”

Swoop Aero has identified four trends that will emerge out of the COVID-19 pandemic to have a profound impact on the nature and delivery of global healthcare. Indeed, this crisis has reinvigorated the desire to achieve the global goal of universal health coverage, but now, the adoption of new technological based methods of delivery, access and care evidenced within the international community will greatly assist the resilience building of healthcare systems to safeguard the international population from a future public health event.

1. The Adoption of Technology

The global community has sought to quickly adopt technological-based solutions to fight and alleviate the health-related pressures associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. In Australia, the use of digital health technologies and telemedicine have increased by 44% in the first trimester of 2020, to reflect the present physical distancing requirements and the increased demand for healthcare services and supplies due to the crisis.

The recent integration of technological methods into the existing health sector; to facilitate the continued provision of healthcare and essential medical supplies has proven extremely beneficial. Advanced technological solutions – such as the Swoop Aero air logistics platform – are being deployed to enable access to essential medical commodities to a much larger and more varied population base than before, across multiple geographical regions around the world. In Malawi, the Swoop Aero aeromedical logistics solution has increased the scale and reach of regional health systems by 250%, scaling up the network to service five additional communities (87,000 people) so to enable access to basic health supplies for COVID-19, and pre-existing, prevalent communicable diseases, such as HIV/AIDS.

The successful integration of drone networks into the existing health supply chain at this time, is only forecast to expand as the global health sector realizes the gross benefits of the service offering to solve the challenges, which preoccupied health officials prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus – such as weak health systems, inequitable distribution of medical supplies, and the tyranny of distance. As a result, Swoop Aero and other innovative healthcare technology companies are expanding within Australia, and more broadly, across the world to address these issues presently; to build a stronger and more resilient national health system and equalise access to healthcare for everyone. .

2. Costs will spark a massive boost in Investment

To date, the overarching theme of this crisis has been the lack of equipment and health supplies considered necessary to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, and the additional struggle to quickly distribute these supplies accordingly once received. For example, following the mass shipment of COVID-19 tests, communities in regional Victoria were required to wait up to 10 days to receive the important medical commodities. Every country has experienced, to varying degrees, a difficulty in procuring the required supply of PPE products, routine medications, pharmaceutical goods and health equipment. In consequence, thousands of lives have been impacted by the spread and contagion of the novel virus and worsening health outcomes than previously anticipated for.

Failure to prepare, is preparing to fail. In this vein, the outbreak of COVID-19 has served as a grave reminder of the importance of investing  in national health systems. The post-pandemic structure is forecast to oversee a massive injection of  investment and precautionary measures designed to mitigate the large scale costs evidenced in recent months. The integration of the Swoop Aero aeromedical logistics solution in Malawi highlighted how important an investment in the health structure is, to enable a quick and targeted response. In the first 24 hours of the expanded operation, Swoop Aero transported more than 100 COVID-19 test kits. The investments made in the security and maintenance of plentiful stocks of health resources, supplies and medications, and the development of a strong infrastructure model will ensure that in the event of a global pandemic, nations will be able to be more proactive and more effective in the deliverance of targeted treatments than before.

3. Humanitarian Action (Re)defined

The health crisis, if not managed collectively through a coordinated global response unit, will further enhance the divisions between the developed and developing world. Moreover, the current travel restrictions imposed worldwide serve to further exacerbate the socio-economic inequalities experienced in developing nations due to the temporary suspension of aid and humanitarian activities, which are premised on a basic prerequisite of the industry – access to affected and vulnerable people.

Swoop Aero has developed the technological capability to implement a service without ‘boots on the ground’. In Malawi, Swoop Aero became the world’s first drone logistics organisation to deploy an aircraft outside the country of operation. This meant that Swoop Aero could continue to facilitate the delivery and provision of essential health supplies to ‘high-risk’ and vulnerable populations, located within the Southern Malawi districts of Nsajne and Chikwawa. This capability has the capacity to revolutionise the delivery of aid in order to support the continued improvement and development of communities classified as ‘developing’. Moreover, the speed and reliability of the Swoop Aero service, which is enhanced through the involvement and support provided by our locally trained workforce to oversee the network, has also improved the overall quality of the service experienced previously and contributed to the economic development of the region through employment.

4. Less Tolerance for Wasted Resources

The pandemic has magnified the extent to which countries have had to stretch health resources to cope with, and manage, the demand for care and medical supplies, whilst working within restricted budgets and limited funding pools. In consequence, many communities have missed out on essential supplies, and therefore, have experienced disproportionately worse health outcomes.

In the post-pandemic world, resources will be more strictly conserved to minimize the rate of wastage and maximize the distributive capacity of supplies for patients. There will undoubtedly be less tolerance of wasted health supplies within the global health system, which could have alternatively saved a life in another part of the country if handled and managed effectively. The provision of ‘on-demand’ health services and supplies will enhance the efficiency of health systems around the world to manage resource levels and distribute these supplies accordingly, at the time they are needed.. The Swoop Aero air logistics platform is being drawn on to facilitate the effective distribution of ‘on demand’ health supplies to enable access to universal health coverage, when it’s needed and where it’s needed.

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