Prabha Venugopalan, Director Vertical Market and Key Accounts Middle East & Africa region, DB Schenker
Joining Hands for Healthcare in Africa
Africa is one of the fastest-growing regions globally, with some calling it the last growth market. There are, however, hurdles involved in developing in such geography. For example, in the absence of adequate temperature-controlled systems and quality assurance procedures – healthcare logistics in the region is challenging. And with a population of 1.34 billion, it becomes a very critical topic, especially when the people need to be inoculated against COVID-19. So, apart from the vaccines, healthcare companies continue to find new ways of transporting and distributing the much required medicines – here’s where DB Schenker adds value as the connective tissue between the life science firms and the residents in Africa.
A Robust Logistics Solution for Health Care
Delivering reliably for the medical industry globally for decades, DB Schenker has developed a logistics solution for the healthcare industry – DB SCHENKERlife+ that manages the safe and secure shipment of biopharmaceuticals, medical devices, personal protective equipment (PPE), and blood plasma for shippers in biopharma, pharmaceuticals, animal health, medical technology, and consumer health & nutrition. In addition to providing end-to-end supply chain visibility and tracking tools, DB SCHENKERlife+ has the equipment needed to keep healthcare products at their intended temperatures by using, for instance, thermal blankets for cold storage, and has access to warehouses that can store products at up to -80 degrees Celsius, like the COVID-19 vaccines.
How does DB Schenker advance healthcare logistics in Africa?
Having been operating, for example, in Kenya and South Africa for more than 50 years, DB Schenker has long-term local experience, knowledge, and a staff of experts on the ground. Additionally, with a healthcare logistics hub in Dubai and the rest of Africa reachable within 3-4 hours—DB Schenker is well equipped to help governments, nonprofits, and life science firms get vaccines and other healthcarerelated products into the arms of the people who desperately need them. These moves support the nation’s healthcare requirements— including vaccine distribution.
"Vaccine logistics in Africa is an ambitious project that comes with a unique set of challenges,” said Prabha Venugopalan, Director Vertical Market and Key Accounts Middle East & Africa region, DB Schenker. “These aren’t shipments that you can load into a shipping container and forget about; they require logistics experts who understand all of the intricacies such as the quality, safety, and efficacy of transporting vaccines.”
Some of the many ways DB Schenker is helping to “join hands” for healthcare in Africa are - in Namibia, the logistics provider moved more than 200 tons of PPE equipment from Europe using six A300 Airbus aircrafts. They also transported oxygen cylinders at no charge to hospitals and care facilities located along its daily routes. Additionally, the organization moved 1.2 tons of COVID-19 test kits and vaccines within 24 hours via a temperature-controlled charter from Nairobi to Tanzania.
Quality and efficacy is the name of the game
As a service provider, DB Schenker has the technology needed to manage difficult and complex situations. For example, it can build control towers for shippers looking for sophisticated import and export supply chain support to receive goods from across the world and distribute them in Africa. To ensure readiness for the vaccine rollout there, DB Schenker has also obtained a separate global insurance coverage – that’s specific to vaccine distributions – mandatory air tracking devices for such shipments and freezer trucks for transporting the temperature-sensitive shipments. Fixed air trackers monitor the shipments’ temperature levels, which the DB Schenker team monitors around the clock.
“If the temperature changes by just one or two degrees, the vaccine’s efficacy will be compromised,” said Prabha. Using insulated thermal covers and specialized equipments, for instance, DB Schenker ensures that doesn’t happen—even when the goods are being transferred from the plane to the tarmac to the cold storage facility. The same care is taken at the point of destination.
The Patient is at the Heart of the Matter
Regardless of what role it’s playing in the health care supply chain, the DB SCHENKERlife+ team always keeps the patient at the heart of everything it does. Each shipment of products, logistics arrangements, and freight movement is done with one goal in mind: to protect human life.
As the African vaccine rollout warms up, DB Schenker is standing by, ready to support it in any way that it can. It not only has extensive experience in the region and a major logistics hub within six hours of it, but through DB SCHENKERlife+, it also has the infrastructure to manage these critical, life-saving supply chains and transport vaccines to the individuals who need them.