A working group (Task Force) should come up with immediate solutions to remedy the shortage of protective equipment and medical equipment on the Belgian market

date: 16/03/2020

In order to fight Covid-19, our care providers need quality protective equipment (masks, gloves, aprons, etc.), medical equipment and spare parts (e.g. ventilators). This is important so that they can treat their patients safely.

As the market for protective and other medical equipment is currently under global pressure, the federal government has decided, on the prime minister’s initiative, to set up a temporary working group (Task Force). This Task Force will immediately implement economic, logistical and legal actions and propose solutions to support our care providers. The working group will also work on outside-the-box solutions, as the normal procedures through public contracts are often taking too long at the moment.

The objectives of the Task Force are as follows:

  • To take an inventory of the issues and formulate urgent protection measures as a priority for:
    • masks;
    • personal protective equipment (gowns and glasses);
    • diagnostic tests (non-IgG/IgM);
    • alcohol-based hand gels for care providers.
  • To explore ways of resolving the shortage:
    • immediate and massive purchases and confiscations of existing mask stocks (medical and industrial) in wholesale and retail points of sale;
    • immediate prohibition of the sale of masks without a medical prescription;
    • massive and extensive exploration of the possibility of purchasing masks from abroad (e.g. China);
    • significant lobbying within the European Union (EU) to lift restrictions on the exports of the manufacturers concerned (e.g. 3M) to Member States.
  • To suggest other viable alternatives when avenues explored are insufficient.

The Task Force was set up last weekend under the joint presidency of the General Administrator of the FAMHP and, as a representative of the sector, the purchasing manager of Antwerp University Hospital (UZ Antwerpen).

The Task Force is made up of representatives of the FAMHP - DG Inspection, FPS Public Health - Logistics, FPS Economy - DG Quality and Safety, FPS Justice and the healthcare sector, particularly professional umbrella organisations.

Last updated on 24/03/2020