Panel description: The need for improved management of global public health emergencies is increasingly evident. Supply chain needs are vital to enabling the important work of global health. How can multi-stakeholder supply chain engagement facilitate the collective action of government, corporate, and civil society actors to improve disaster and epidemic preparedness and response, long-term health development and health systems design?

Chair: Jodi Allison, Vice President, MAP International


  • John Crenshaw, Regional Director, Healthcare Systems, J&J
  • Leontien Ruttenberg, Head of Sales and Marketing, IMRES
  • Cyntia Genolet, Head of Health Systems & Africa Policy, IFPMA
  • Jonathan O’Connor, Head of Aid and Relief Africa, Bollore Logistics

This panel wrestled with the question of how do we get medicines and health supplies to locations all over the globe during times of relative peace and during disasters and humanitarian crises? How do we get important resources to the people who need them the most but are located in some of the most remote and difficult parts of the world to reach?

There are so many factors outside of our control – governments, disasters, war, lack of infrastructure, lack of funding, regulations, and many other issues, that getting medicines to where they need to be can seem overwhelming and daunting. It is certainly not for the faint of heart.

Supply Chain Realities panel at PQMD Global Health Policy Forum in Geneva.

The panelists discussed supply chain logistics in times of rapid response to a complicated crisis like Ebola outbreaks in DRC and ways to address and rectify supply chain challenges in the planning stages of a crisis response. Supply chain resources were outlined as some organizations may not have comprehensive supply chain expertise. There was detailed discussion about getting medicines and supplies through the “last mile” to their final destination. Also, the panelists discussed supply chain complications faced by both corporate and NGO sectors. Finally, the panelists discussed regulatory policies like Europe’s Falsified Medicines Directive.

After the discussion, Allison and the panelists concluded three things:

  • Supply chain and logistics should always be part of the planning process up front, including a robust budget for getting products to their final destination. Too often the supply chain folks are completely left out of the program development discussions which leads to disastrous results.
  • The last mile needs to be thought about first. Getting medicines and health supplies to its final destination is a huge challenge and we should be wary of companies/organizations that call themselves “last mile experts” since people who claim that distinction are often not able to live up to our expectations. We have to work together in public/private partnerships to make sure products get to the final recipients in the most efficient way possible.
  • Serialization will improve quality of products and trust from patients but it’s a long process and very complex. Whether it’s DSCSA in the US or the Falsified Medicines Directive in Europe, the industry is trying to increase quality and trust but it comes at a high cost to everyone involved in the short term to gain a long term positive outcome.