Around the globe, the Covid-19 pandemic continues to leave havoc in its wake, causing unprecedented disruption, destroying millions of lives and shattering societies. Healthcare facilities are being stretched to the limit. Businesses have had to change the way they operate. Human activity and social interactions are severely compromised. Despite strong measures taken, the virus has claimed more than four million lives, with more than 186 million cases recorded.
The only way the world will be able to combat the virus successfully is through vaccination. The global roll-out of the vaccine is, however, intricate, complex and challenging – but also a fascinating topic for those in supply chain and freight forwarding.
The Covid-19 vaccine delivery roll-out will be a key focus of the SA Association of Freight Forwarders (SAAFF) in its upcoming online Summit on 16 and 17 September. High-level, outspoken industry leaders will share the realities and updates of the vaccine roll-out.
“Supply chain robustness, readiness and agility is key to efficiently deploying Covid-19 vaccines in line with defined vaccination strategies,” says Dr Maria du Preez, Business Development Director: Bidvest International Logistics and Chair of SAAFF’s Gauteng Chapter. Du Preez will be moderating the session.
Du Preez describes the vaccine roll-out as “the biggest supply chain challenge the world has ever seen”. These are documented in the guidelines supplied by the World Health Organisation and UNICEF. Factors that need to be considered in the supply chain include:
- Adequate skills to manage the vaccine cold chain and supply chain, to ensure procedures unfold according to standard operating procedures (SOPs).
- Strict management protocols to ensure integrity of the Covid-19 vaccines and ancillary products throughout the supply chain.
- All the vaccines need to be traceable to counter any falsification or diversion of the vaccines.
- Initial batches of Covid-19 vaccines may be in short supply and have a limited shelf life. Rigorous and efficient monitoring mechanisms are required to ensure cold chain equipment (CCE) temperature monitoring, vaccine distribution and inventory management.
- Safety plans to safeguard the stock, warehousing and distribution.
- Effective waste management which should include training, employment of waste handlers, bins and ensure treatment technologies are in place prior to vaccine deployment, including private sector support.
In addition to these, South Africa faces unique complexities in the roll-out. “Our demographic spread is a challenge,” says du Preez. “Most people are situated in Gauteng, the smallest province. Our largest province, the Northern Cape, has the fewest people. We also do not have an even distribution of hospitals and health care facilities.” She adds that the lack of reliable data has complicated the planning required for a successful vaccine roll-out.
“Our country’s lack of infrastructure and a shortage of trained healthcare workers compound the situation,” she continues. “Despite these mounting challenges, however, we have witnessed Government’s willingness to work with the private sector – with great results!”
The Summit panel which will debate this topic includes Dr Stavros Nicolau – Head, Health Working Group: B4SA; Cas Coovadia – CEO: Business Unity South Africa (BUSA); Lizeth Kruger – National Clinic Manager: Dis-Chem; Dr Ronald Whelan – Chief Commercial Officer: Discovery Health; and Dr Nicholas Crisp, Deputy Director General: National Health Insurance, National Department of Health.
On the wider front, the SAAFF Summit will bring together over 300 decision-makers, experts and industry leaders. With over 40 speakers and panellists from six countries (Brazil, Hong Kong, Kenya, Singapore, South Africa and Zambia), delegates can look forward to compelling content, insights from global industry experts, valuable networking opportunities – and lots more!
“The freight forwarding and supply chain industries have been through a series of intense disruptions and challenges over the past year,” says SAAFF’s Chief Executive Officer Dave Logan. “The SAAFF Summit provides a valuable opportunity for the industry to re-connect, gain new perspectives and learn lessons from recent challenges.”
Other programme highlights include:
- The Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement – Challenges and Opportunities for Global Value Chains: Regional and International Perspectives – Customs Compliance and Improved Trade Facilitation: Best Practices. A panel discussion.
- The Mass Lootings and Prospects for Political Realignments in Ramaphosa’s Cabinet by Dr Ralph Mathekga – Political Analyst, Researcher and Author of Ramaphosa’s Turn.
- Navigating the world’s uncertainties – the Upside of Down by Bruce Whitfield – Radio, TV and print journalist and speaker.
The full programme line-up is available at https://saaffsummit.co.za/programme/
Lombard Insurance is the Platinum sponsor for this year’s Summit. Shipshape Software Solutions is a Silver sponsor. For more information or to register visit https://saaffsummit.co.za.