Amid surging demand for syringes, a new investment supports long-term supply on the African continent

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Over the past decade, predicting the demand for syringes was relatively straightforward. After accounting for population growth and routine childhood immunization needs, new orders were placed and millions of syringes arrived at their destinations with little fanfare. That all changed with COVID-19 vaccines. Suddenly, demand for syringes skyrocketed. Meanwhile, the need for routine immunizations—for diseases such as measles, whooping cough, polio, and more—didn’t stop. Syringe shortages are looming.

Syringe shortfalls in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) could exceed 1 billion in 2022. It has become clear that syringe manufacturing needs to be ramped up—but where, and how?

Before joining the foundation’s Global Delivery Programs team as a program officer, Surabhi Rajaram spent several years working in the unheralded, yet vitally important, world of syringe manufacturing and safety. That experience gave her insight into the supply chain challenges spurred by COVID-19. Here, she shares details of a new US$3.9 million grant to a Kenyan syringe manufacturer that will address some of this shortfall while simultaneously diversifying the supplier base. Her experience also touches on larger considerations in the global supply chain, and how thoughtful coordination can improve global health.