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Strategic National Stockpile and Points of Dispensing Essay

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Updated: Jun 16th, 2022

The Purposes of the Strategic National Stockpile

The purpose of the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) is to ensure adequate supply of medication and medical equipment during public health emergencies (PHEs) on a local and state level. PHEs are events when the immediate supply of medicines and devices may be extremely short or not possible for a number of reasons. In this case, the Strategic National Stockpile serves as a short-term buffer that helps with public health emergencies (“About the Strategic National Stockpile,” 2020). Before the Covid-19 outbreak, the main focus of the SNS was local and regional emergencies such as natural and manmade disasters. However, the ongoing pandemic continues to expose the faults of the SNS system in place and shows its vulnerability in the face of a global threat. SNS 2.0, the next generation of the SNS, has set five priorities:

  1. replenishing the SNS;
  2. refining SNS strategy and structure;
  3. establishing a distributor working model;
  4. expanding the supply chain control tower; and
  5. expanding domestic manufacturing.

The Structure and Responsibilities of the Strategic National Stockpile

At present, the Strategic National Stockpile hires more than 200 federal and contract employees (“About the Strategic National Stockpile,” 2020). The SNS comprises several branches of different specialities that together ensure that the needed medicines and devices are in stock and can be delivered to the right place at the right time (“About the Strategic National Stockpile,” 2020). The Information and Planning Branch is responsible for coordination of activities for stockpile and its partners. Information and Planning specialists train and support public health and emergency staff, check the stockpile’s preparedness, and manage crisis response activities in the event of an emergency. Those working in The Management and Business Operations Branch oversee budgeting, policy, legislation, and strategic planning. It is the Operational Logistics Branch that replenishes the SNS with antibiotics, medical supplies, equipment, antidotes, antitoxins, antivirals, vaccines, and other pharmaceuticals. The Science Branch reviews the medical assets and researches to identify the needs of populations and the adequate response. Lastly, the relationships between the SNS and its partners are built through the Strategic Logistics Branch. The scope of the SNS’s responsibilities includes medical countermeasures that are dispensed through points of dispensing (PODs).

The Purpose of Points of Dispensing

Medical countermeasures, abbreviated as MCMs, include vaccines, antiviral drugs, antibiotics, antitoxins, and chemical antidotes (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020). Their purpose is to prevent, mitigate, or provide a response to a public health emergency, be it one that occurs naturally or is manmade. MCMs get to the communities in need through PODs, points of dispensing. It is critical to dispense MCMs rapidly, which is why the local public health departments simultaneously use two types of PODs – open and closed. Large public locations – arenas, schools, and universities – often have open PODs at their disposal. Managed by local health departments, they are used to deliver MCMs to all recipients.

In contrast, closed PODs are operated by partner organizations, and only their populations get access to the medicines and devices. Closed PODs ensure the continued functioning of a facility and a lesser burden on open PODs. Regardless of type, PODs serve common goals:

  1. Make sure that recipients will not have severe reaction to dispensed MCMs;
  2. Educating populations on the use and benefits of taking medicine and mitigating public health emergencies;
  3. Dispensing MCMs on time;

Keeping track of MCMs used and replenished (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020).

The Planning and Implementation of PODs: Preplanning, Staffing and Just-in-Time

If an organization wishes to become a closed POD partner, it should contact its local public health department. The local public health agency can help set up a POD by informing about planning resources, giving recommendations, providing assistance, and encouraging resource sharing to tackle shortages (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020). Staffing is one of the tasks that determine the success of POD management. According to the dispensing standards established by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2008), each organization needs to estimate the throughput of a POD, or in other words, the number of people that are likely to visit for prophylaxis.

It should be noted that residents are not assigned to particular PODs. Further, the CDC does not impose any particular staffing configuration but rather gives organizations the freedom to use a mix of combination of timed drills and computer simulation modeling software. Such an approach ensures that an organization covers its unique needs and is consistent with the so-called Just-in-Time (JIT) method. JIT promotes the provision of resources in the time when they are needed, as opposed to preparing them in advance. With regard to training, the approach includes creating a learning culture and using responsive technology to accommodate learners acquiring new knowledge anywhere and anytime.

The Planning and Implementation of PODs: 12-Hour Push Package and SLP

A 12-hour push package is the first line of support from the Strategic National Stockpile in the event a threat is not immediately identified. The contents of push packages include a wide range of medicines and medical supplies. Weighing up to 50 tons and color coded for easy identification, they are pre-packed and ready for rapid transportation to any location in the United States in less than 12 hours. Strategically located warehouses store many 12-hour push packages, and each is ready for immediate deployment. Because of in-advance planning and the ease of transportation, authorities can empower themselves when responding to a threat.

References

. (2020). Public Health Emergency.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). .

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2008). .

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