Safe Shipping of Medical Supplies Aiding the Fight against the Global Pandemic
Shipping medical supplies and equipment safely and quickly has become key to preventing the further spread of Covid-19 and compensating shortages in many countries. The proper packing of medical equipment is important, especially for non-standard and fragile items and when specialized transportation is required.
Types of Medical Equipment and Supplies
Medical supplies that are shipped to protect frontline healthcare workers include disposable gloves, N95 respirators, surgical masks, gowns, and foot and eye protection. Equipment is also shipped, including bulky devices such as X-Ray scans, MRI machines, ECG, and ultrasound. The World Health Organization also published a list of priority equipment for treatment, diagnostic, and preventative procedures, which list includes ventilators, portable ventilators, aspirators, and manual and automated defibrillators.
Amidst the coronavirus crisis, healthcare facilities also need injectable and infusion supplies, sterilization equipment, disinfectants, and sample collection consumables.
Shipping Medical Supplies Safely
Freight forwarders shipping medical supplies such as disposable gloves and surgical masks must ensure that the manufacturer’s packaging is intact. Plastic bags can be used for small-sized items unless they have sharp edges. Bubble wrap and cardboard scrap are used for items with sharp edges. Placing packing peanuts or crumbled paper at the bottom of cardboard boxes helps protect supplies. Boxes must be sealed with adhesive tape to ensure safe shipping.
Transporting Medical Equipment
Medical devices such as MRI and ultrasound must be dismantled as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Each item must be wrapped with clinging film or bubble wrap. Foam-padded cardboard boxes can be used to ship smaller parts. Again, packing peanuts or crumbled paper can be used for additional protection. When heavy equipment is transported, it is important to ensure that supports and ramps are available at the recipient’s location. Pallets shipping is a good choice for devices that cannot be dismantled, and straps ensure they are secured firmly in place. Wooden crates work best for devices that are fragile.
It is strongly recommended to get an insurance cover against damage, loss, and theft. A good choice is insurance that covers the full value of the shipment and risks such as breakdown, accidental damage, and physical loss.
Temporary Export Restrictions
It is important to be familiar with national legislation on critical medical supplies adopted by different European countries. Temporary export restrictions have been implemented by a number of countries, including Hungary, Bulgaria, the United Kingdom, and Norway. Some countries such as the UK have adopted export restrictions on critical medications, including morphine, paracetamol, insulin, and adrenalin. Others, including Bulgaria, banned the export of personal protective equipment and ethanol-containing items. In Iceland, the export of personal protective equipment is not permitted without license issued by a government agency.
Other measures implemented by different countries include suspension of compulsory facilitation, temporary and exceptional criteria, and bans.
Restrictions have been lifted in some countries. The Czech Republic, for example, lifted the restriction on the export of masks. Germany also terminated the restriction on the export of gloves, goggles, masks, and other medical equipment.