Late in 2022 and early in 2023, the Partnership for Supply Chain Management (PFSCM) delivered autoclaves, biosafety cabinets (BSCs), and Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) based multi-disease testing platforms (analyzers) worth more than $2.5 million to Pakistan to help the country strengthen its public health laboratory system for improved testing and surveillance of infectious diseases.
PFSCM managed the sourcing, quality assurance, procurement, and delivery of these critical health products and supported the recipients in-country throughout the whole supply chain process, helping them to manage risks by providing advice and guidance on warranties, installation, and training.
PFSCM Logistics Lead Tassos Betzelos says even though recipients are mainly responsible for the in-country distribution and implementation of goods, PFSCM does support them closely to help coordinate the often complex planning for installations across various provinces, multiple facilities, and at different intervals.
“We have a longstanding and productive relationship with stakeholders in Pakistan, and we help to navigate supply chain challenges like prolonged storage of machines and avoid common pitfalls like ordering time and temperature sensitive consumables too soon before machines have even been installed,” adds Betzelos.
In addition to the equipment, PFSCM is on an ongoing basis procuring and shipping consumables – such as reagents used in molecular diagnostics – to Pakistan. Overall, in the last year and a half, PFSCM supported the country with a wide range of orders, from rapid diagnostic tests to X-ray machines amounting to more than $12 million.
Availability of critical medical equipment
Pakistan is implementing an excellent plan to strengthen the country’s laboratory networks by improving biosafety in laboratories and establishing several laboratories with the capacity for integrated diagnostic testing throughout Pakistan.
To improve biosafety in laboratories, Pakistan acquired 37 new BSCs and 41 autoclaves. BSCs are biocontainment equipment used to protect personnel against biohazardous or infectious agents and to help maintain the quality of the material being worked with. Autoclaves are specialized pieces of equipment designed to deliver steam-generated heat under pressure to a sealed chamber, with the goal of decontaminating or sterilizing its contents. Autoclaves are used in the management of infectious waste.
As can be seen from the COVID-19 scenario above, the availability of and understanding of these products play an important role in the safety and efficacy of a laboratory network.
Further, as part of the establishment of several laboratories with the capacity for integrated diagnostic testing, Pakistan procured 16 medium-throughout Roche multi-disease testing platforms.
The cobas 5800 system supports an automated and integrated workflow to run PCR-based Nucleic Acid Testing for use by trained professionals in laboratory settings. The cobas 5800 system combines the functionalities of instrumentation, consumables, reagents, and data management to provide an efficient workflow from sample processing to result interpretation.
PFSCM has been procuring PCR machines, also known as analyzers, for a few years now and has built up a diverse and sustainable supplier base. The organization has, since 2019, procured more than $35.8 million worth of analyzers from more than 30 different suppliers destined for 66 different countries.
In recent years, PFSCM has honed its expertise in the procurement of capital equipment like medical imaging devices, waste management technologies, sequencing equipment, and analyzers, and has developed a Roadmap for the Procurement of Capital Equipment.
PFSCM works closely with its suppliers and service providers to offer clients holistic solutions that include various warranty plans, rental agreement plans, installation, training, and maintenance. In addition to outright purchasing, PFSCM negotiates and facilitates rental and/or all-inclusive and hybrid deals for molecular diagnostics products between suppliers and recipients.
PFSCM functions as a 4PL services provider and has many years of experience in managing health logistics. The organization partners with best-in-class freight forwarders who offer the best value and best performance for the specific shipping lanes it uses.
For the Pakistan delivery, the shipment was assigned to our longstanding partner Maersk. Maersk picked up the goods in Frankfurt, Germany, from where it was trucked to the Port of Antwerp in Belgium.
Once loaded onto the vessel, the container made its 6,966 nautical-mile journey to the Port of Qasim (or Karachi) in Pakistan. From there, the shipment was again trucked to Islamabad, where its month-long journey came to an end, with the goods being stored in a central location before being distributed further into the various provinces of Pakistan.
During the transport planning phase, PFSCM and its partners collaborated to overcome a couple of unique obstacles. Between June and October 2022, severe flooding and an especially harsh monsoon season disrupted health supply chains and service delivery in Pakistan, and by the end of 2022, the demand for global logistics picked up again in the usual Red Zone period. PFSCM helped Pakistan to postpone orders which were due to arrive in the country during the flooding and collaborated with Maersk to manage delivery changes in light of the events.
PFSCM has been serving Pakistan since 2010 on an ongoing basis delivering hundreds of shipment of health products worth millions of dollars.
In 2019, 2021, and again in 2022 PFSCM assisted the country with emergency orders for HIV and malaria testing and treatment products. In 2022, despite Pakistan’s trade restrictions on imports from India, production delays and reefer container shortages, PFSCM was able to assist the Directorate of Malaria Control (DOMC) in the country with large and urgent deliveries of malaria rapid diagnostic test kits (MRDTs). Meanwhile, in 2019, when more than 900 children were diagnosed with HIV in a pediatric outbreak of the virus due to negligence in reusing needles and syringes, PFSCM quickly delivered 18 shipments of pediatric antiretrovirals (ARVs) and HIV rapid diagnostic test kits, worth more than $200,000 to the country.
Throughout the years PFSCM has remained flexible to country’s needs and look forward to continue helping our partners reach their programmatic health outcome goals, through smart supply chain solutions.