For more than five months now, Ukraine has been the victim of the invasion of the Russian army, which continues to spread and intensify across many regions. According to the German Red Cross (GRC), the resulting humanitarian crisis in the country is worsening dramatically.
“There is no end to the hardship and suffering of the people on the ground, where the confrontations with violence, loss, and destruction increase daily. The displacement of the civilian population has reached unprecedented proportions and the need for humanitarian aid is becoming more urgent and greater,” the GRC writes on its Web site. The relief organization estimates that 13 million people are stranded in areas directly affected by the fighting. They lack food, drinking water, and medical care.
Attacks on healthcare facilities, personnel, and infrastructure have only exacerbated the situation, undermining relief efforts and depriving people of urgently needed care. According to the World Health Organization, 300 attacks on healthcare resources were reported between February 24 and June 15. It is also estimated that more than 10,000 civilians have been injured since the war began.
Ukrainian health authorities and many local and international relief organizations are doing everything they can to ensure that those affected continue to receive medical assistance. The biggest challenge is having medicine and medical supplies available where it’s needed.
Connecting Suppliers and Buyers
Mathias Fritzsche, who, together with Martin Fassunge, heads the Software Donations working group in SAP’s Ukraine Task Force, says: “SAP wants to support Ukraine with software solutions. War means chaos and destruction, and with it the shattering of supply chains. Our SAP Ariba Procurement solutions can help rebuild those supply chains.”
As part of this initiative, SAP is making its SAP Ariba Discovery solution (now SAP Business Network Discovery) available to companies and organizations free of charge until the end of 2022. The solution can help buyers connect with millions of companies in 190 countries across the globe via SAP Business Network. “It works in the same way as a dating platform: suppliers and buyers can log on to SAP’s huge business network to find suitable matches,” Fritzsche explains. “What’s more, we’ve added a new toggle button called “Support Ukraine,” which aid agencies can use to search specifically for urgently required goods.”
In the first 15 hours after it went live, more than 300 suppliers offered their help via the solution. This number has since increased to more than 4,600. To date, these suppliers have delivered over €130 million worth of humanitarian goods, including 300,000 first aid kits, torniquets to stop heavy bleeding, and more.
Ordering System for the Ukrainian Ministry of Health
The start of the war spelled the end of “business as usual” for the State Enterprise Medical Procurement of Ukraine (MPU), the only national agency that ensures centralized procurement of quality medicines and medical devices for the state funds, too. With many of its national suppliers no longer available, the MPU was forced to find a new approach, as tenders can no longer take place the way they used to or are not fast enough in cases where urgent help is required.
The not-for-profit aid organization Enkidu contacted SAP in March, seeking IT support for federal procurement authorities, and brought the partners together. Founded by Ukrainian volunteers in Switzerland, Enkidu supports the procurement and supply of medicine to war-torn Ukraine as well as facilitates the donations process for global institutional donors through its platform. In addition to using the SAP Ariba Discovery solution to post its sourcing needs, the MPU also needed a catalog solution to search for and compare specific medical supplies.
Fritzsche made some inquiries: “On a Friday evening, we asked colleagues for help, and they did not let us down. Around five consultants sprang into action right away. In less than three weeks, we were able to implement and install a catalog solution for the MPU based on the guided buying capability. It’s similar to the cloud-based SAP Ariba solution that SAP employees use when they order a new notebook or cellphone, for example.”
For the MPU, SAP experts uploaded the corresponding catalogs from suppliers of medical products, set up authorizations for users, and tailored the solution to the ministry’s needs. The built-in invoicing process, for example, is an important feature, enabling benevolent suppliers to deduct donations from their taxes.
“I am particularly pleased about our collaboration with Enkidu because it makes it easier for us to help the Ukrainian people swiftly and efficiently. The network approach also provides greater opportunities to speed the rebuilding of Ukraine,” Fassunge adds.
The first order transacted via the ordering platform was for 400 vacuum-assisted closure machines and 10,000 disposable negative pressure therapy kits, valued at over US$1 million. Negative pressure therapy provides better healing of wounds, requires fewer dressing changes, and minimizes the risk of infection. The order was funded by the Ukrainian Embassy in London. In the first two weeks of using the solution, the MPU triggered several orders totaling more than €2.5 million, no doubt saving countless lives.