Improving global health outcomes through last mile logistics

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In global health supply chains, the last mile has proven to be the greatest challenge in terms of meeting the goal of access equality for healthcare commodities. 

This document provides PwC's perspective of supply chain performance related to the last mile. The last mile, as defined within this document, is the movement of goods from a transportation hub to a final destination, including populations in rural or geographically hard to reach areas. 

Sharing which metrics are critical to drive performance and providing global benchmarks will allow organizations to identify and prioritize improvement opportunities.

What is the Special Focus Forum?

In December 2015, APICS Supply Chain Council and PwC established a Special Focus Forum (SFF), with the ultimate goal of improving global health and humanitarian supply chains. This SFF was comprised of representatives from national Governments, Global Health Organizations, Academia, and Private Sector companies who came together to discuss and share challenges, best practices, and innovations related to Last Mile Logistics in low to middle income countries (LMICs). 

Given the challenges outlined by SFF members operating in LMICs, the Special Focus Forum collaborated to identify specific challenges with Last Mile Logistics. With the critical nature of delivering care to patients, the last mile is paramount to the overall success of global health and humanitarian supply chains.

Role and challenges of the last mile in global health supply chains

Throughout the world, many businesses focus on speed and agility when building a supply network. However, when it comes to products such as medicines or emergency surgical equipment, providing access when and where they are needed and avoiding stock-outs can be a matter of life or death. 

One of the greatest tragedies experienced in global health supply chains is that, while there is availability of stock at the central or provincial levels, stock-outs occur at patient dispensing sites (last mile). This crisis is created by a number of factors, including, but not limited to, lack of information sharing, and poor supply planning.

In addition, many global health organizations receive significant donor funding and support for their healthcare programs, which raises additional complexities in that many global donors require added visibility and accountability for the funds provided. As a result of this increased scrutiny, donors are applying increasing pressure on donor-recipients to provide visibility into their supply chains, specifically the last mile delivery, to ensure patients are receiving the necessary care.

Best practices and innovation

Performance metrics have been introduced in an attempt to provide visibility into the performance challenges related to last mile delivery within their supply chains. In evaluating which performance metrics organizations should track to monitor last mile delivery, the SFF drew on those contained within the Supply Chain Operations Reference (SCOR) model, the world’s leading supply chain framework that links business processes, performance metrics, practices, and people into a unified structure. 

Innovation is often also viewed as the application of better solutions that meet new requirements, unarticulated needs, or existing market needs. As supply chain professionals, we are constantly challenged to look for better solutions and learn from different business models and distribution network settings. SFF team members reported some innovative practices applied on their LMIC operations that can be leveraged to accurately collect the inputs for the SCOR reliability metrics.

Contact us

Glenn Heywood

Director, Benchmarking Services, PwC US

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