Overcoming trade restrictions, production delays and reefer shortages to deliver MRDTs to Pakistan

by | Mar 7, 2023

PFSCM has been serving Pakistan since 2010 on an ongoing basis. 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). In total, in 2022, PFSCM delivered more than 459,153 MRDT kits (containing 25 tests each) worth almost $4 million to Pakistan; with more deliveries in the immediate pipeline.

One notable and urgent shipment from last year consisted of 14 reefer containers, amounting to 95 metric tons, which were delivered by ocean and another 11 tons of MRDTs delivered as air cargo, bringing the total to 106 metric tons.

PFSCM Logistics Specialist Tassos Betzelos explains that expediting the procurement and shipping required extensive coordination with suppliers and 3PLs.

“Urgent orders require all hands on deck to advocate for shorter production and documentation approval lead times, as well as speedy delivery using the first and most suitable available freight options in order to prevent possible stockout situations for our clients”

He adds that with many years of experience in this regard, PFSCM is well-positioned to negotiate and collaborate with suppliers and shippers.

COVID-19 is still affecting supply chains, and when we worked on these orders last year, our stakeholders and we were still experiencing the knock-on effects of the pandemic. Despite those ongoing global issues, we worked closely with our supplier to prioritize production. The supplier reduced the lead time for the first urgent MRDT order to about 50 days. This is a 25 to 40-day improvement on the standard 75 to 90 days lead time usually offered.

Further, PFSCM collaborated closely with its 3PL partner Maersk to overcome some unique logistical barriers that were presented during the planning of ocean shipments.

“In 2022, urgent deliveries to Pakistan are not only complicated by the trade restriction imposed on imports from India, but also by the global shortage of reefer containers.”

Betzelos notes that PFSCM recognized these issues in the early stages of supply chain planning and before procurement and shipping, engaged all the stakeholders — Maersk, their legal team, the supplier, the donor, the PR, and the Pakistani authorities — to ensure that all the necessary exemptions were in place, and that import waivers were pre-approved for accelerated delivery.

He explains that the exceptions are based on an Import Policy Order from 2016 (and a clause added in 2019) stating that “therapeutic products regulated by the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP)” are exempt from the trade restrictions.

“We are extremely pleased and grateful that the supplier and 3PL could accommodate these urgent orders despite ongoing supply chain challenges. The dedication and flexibility of our suppliers and 3PLs are testament to our collective commitment to end serious epidemics like malaria, HIV, and tuberculosis,” concludes Betzelos.

Meanwhile, back 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.

PFSCM’s procurement unit worked closely with various suppliers to determine- and release available stock and plan for the immediate replenishment to supply the new and ongoing orders to Pakistan. PFSCM also collaborated with the donor and PR to clear the waivers immediately.

Overall, PFSCM’s freight estimation and purchase orders were prepared in only two hours, and the supply- and waiver lead time was reduced by 7 to 10 days.

No stockouts occurred, and there were enough commodities to “test and treat” during this unfortunate outbreak in 2019.