The UN Interagency on Sustainable Procurement in the Health Sector (SPHS) Annual Report 2021 has been launched. The report profiles the efforts of the SPHS Members (Gavi, The Global Fund, UNDP, UNEP, UNFPA, UNHCR, UNICEF, Unitaid, UNOPS, and WHO) to implement equitable, innovative, and sustainable health care policies and practices that positively impact the global health supply chain, while fighting against COVID-19 and preventing the next pandemic.

2021 was a year dominated by the ongoing pandemic, the biggest challenge the world has faced since World War II. The number of people who have lost their lives due to the pandemic is estimated to be close to 18 million – roughly three times official estimates.

The past year witnessed multiple challenges that slowed down the progress on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development—a shortfall leading the world to encounter a range of crises threatening the very core of human and planetary health. The pandemic continued to disrupt global health supply chains, leading to an unprecedented challenge to health care waste management, a shortage of health commodities, and rise of the greenhouse gas emissions across the globe.

As the virus spread, and the WHO declared the COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic back in 2020, the SPHS members immediately responded to focus on recovering stronger, for equitable and greener health systems and a more sustainable economy. In 2021, the SPHS members worked hard to deliver on their mission to step-up efforts to create more sustainable and resilient global health systems and supported emergency preparedness of the next pandemic.

COVAX, the global initiative aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines led and supported by SPHS members and their partners, delivered over 1 billion vaccines to 144 countries and territories, with 85 percent of the doses shipped to 86 lower-income countries.

Moreover, the COP26 UN Climate Conference witnessed the commitment of over 50 countries to take concrete steps towards creating health systems that are resilient to growing climate impacts, while many countries also committed to transform their health systems to be more sustainable and low carbon.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on UN procurement was analysed in 2021. According to the UNOPS 2020 report on UN Procurement, the pandemic had a profound impact on the procurement activities of the UN organizations. Overall spend on goods increased by 24.1 percent, while spend on services increased by 1.5 percent. In 2020, the UN SPHS members spent US$5.7 billion on health-related products and services.

Another breakthrough in 2021 was the Compendium developed by WHO, UN Environment, UNDP and UNICEF Guidance on Health and Environment—a comprehensive collection of available guidance covering areas such as air pollution, water, sanitation and hygiene, climate change, chemicals, radiation, or food systems.

The SPHS members, together with their partners, supported the COVID-19 frontlines, vaccine delivery efforts, waste management and health care sustainability tools, and delivered help to put the world back on track with no one left behind.

“The COVID-19 pandemic affects everyone everywhere, but it is having a disproportionate impact on the world’s most vulnerable. By 2030, eight out of ten people pushed into poverty, as a result of COVID-19, will live in low and medium human development countries. Greater cooperation is the only way to defeat COVID-19 and restore and accelerate progress on the Sustainable Development Goals and on the pledge to leave no one behind,” said Achim Steiner, the UNDP Administrator.

The COVID-19 pandemic has once more proven that human and environmental health are intertwined, and environmental degradation increases the risk of pandemics. The need for accelerated intervention for greener health care systems demonstrates the importance of the SPHS’ mission to promote green health systems that positively impact the global health care supply chain and achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Explore the SPHS Annual Report 2021: 

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