Protecting Health Care Workers With Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Working Paper

10 August 2021

Transforming the Medical PPE Ecosystem
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Access to medical personal protective equipment (PPE) is essential for delivering health care. It can reduce the risk of infection during a pandemic by an estimated 60-95% and is one of the most cost-effective health interventions. Health care workers who put themselves at risk to protect our communities have a right to be protected and PPE is one of our most effective tools against COVID-19 and for infection control more broadly. However, the COVID-19 pandemic revealed several issues in the manufacture, supply and quality of PPE that put the lives of health care workers across the world at risk.

In this working paper, health experts from around the world explain the five coordinated shifts that are required to transform access to PPE:

  1. catalyze PPE innovation;
  2. improve PPE standards and quality;
  3. expand and diversify regional manufacturing capacity;
  4. strengthen procurement practices; and
  5. prioritize the usage of PPE as a critical health tool and ensure its adequate disposal.

These five shifts, along with joint action from governments, public health agencies, funders, development banks and manufacturers, will help protect health care workers with effective and affordable PPE, strengthening the fight against current and future pandemics. PPE needs to remain on the global agenda and be prioritized as a crucial and lifesaving health tool, while recognizing the vital role it will continue to play in pandemic preparedness and response.