PtD at the 11th Annual Health & Humanitarian Logistics (HHL) Conference in Kigali, Rwanda

HHL 2019 welcomed over 200 participants from 106 different organizations and 31 countries. The PtD Secretariat was heavily involved again this year, both Secretariat staff members were on the organizing and program committees. This year’s conference focused broadly on resilience, with the purpose of building greater understanding on how supply chain practitioners at the country level can meet basic health and humanitarian logistics needs without reliance on external assistance. The conference was opened by the Honorable Minister of Health of Rwanda, Ms. Diane Gashumba, followed by a Keynote Panel with four highly esteemed representatives from the Ministries of Health in Rwanda, Liberia and Somalia, providing a broad perspective on some of the priority areas, challenges, and successful initiatives.

On the first day, PtD Executive Manager, Dominique Zwinkels, and PtD Board Deputy Chair, Paul Lalvani, moderated a panel on the topic of private sector engagement to build resilience in the health and humanitarian supply chain, discussing recommendations for the public sector on how to best build and sustain an effective supply chain in resource limited settings. What is the comparative advantage of private sector in improving public health supply chain performance? Board member Alfons Van Woerkom from the Global Fund was one of the panelists, including Jim Coughlan, Global Solutions Director at UPS, Robert Kimbui, Senior Supply Chain Manager at Johnson & Johnson, Peter Okebukola, McKinsey Health Care Practice Lead for West Africa, and Malyse Uwase, Director of Health and Impact at Kasha. The key takeaways were as follows:

  • Innovation and financing are necessary for us to reach our SDG goals
  • Alternative financing mechanisms are being explored by organizations as overseas development assistance (ODA) decreases

Robert Kimbui from Johnson & Johnson talked about the DHIS2, a data visibility platform in Kenya, that is owned by the government, but managed by private sector partners as an example of a successful Public Private Partnership. He added that we need to identify mechanisms that don't put an additional burden on the population, with a need for governments to spend more.

Alfons Van Woerkom showed in his research that the upfront costs that governments have incurred have paid off with more economic growth. But asked, how do you ensure growth in the healthcare industry if governments aren't willing to invest?

PtD finished out the day by co-hosting a workshop with the International Association of Public Health Logisticians (IAPHL) where guests were invited to share their thoughts on how public health logistics assets could be used to support humanitarian emergency response. The speakers confirmed that there is very strong interest for a network of regional logisticians that would be available to respond to humanitarian disasters, as was necessary for the Cyclone Idai response and recovery.

You can watch a video recap of the first day of the conference featuring PtD Board Chair Dr. Lloyd Matowe here.  On the second day, the PtD Secretariat convened a roundtable discussion and networking event for women working in health supply chains. This included the launch of an online platform for virtual collaboration using Slack. The online group is free to join and you can do so by clicking on this link.

Overall, this year’s conference proved to be a success with significant participation from the African logistics community and engaging discussions on a variety of valuable topics. As the conference concluded, Dr. Julie Swann, HHL Co-Chair and Professor at North Carolina State University asked participants to consider the knowledge they would take away for themselves and for colleagues, the actions they planned to take upon their return, as well as the actions they would ask others to take as a result of what they experienced during the conference. The presentations, keynote speeches, videos and photos from entire event can be viewed on the 2019 Conference website.

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