The challenges faced in the health and humanitarian sectors continue to increase in magnitude and complexity. Each year the Health & Humanitarian Logistics (HHL) Conference offers a unique platform for participants from a variety of organizations and sectors to discuss challenges, share best practices, and explore potential collaborations, with the goal of improving efficiency and effectiveness, and leading to positive change.
In 2016, the HHL Conference returned to Georgia (Aug. 29 – 31), after traveling to Germany (2012), Malaysia (2013), Mexico (2014) and South Africa (2015). The event was organized by the Georgia Tech Center for Health & Humanitarian Systems (CHHS), in partnership with co-organizers from INSEAD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Northeastern University.
The 2016 conference drew over 200 participants from 27 different countries around the world, representing 115 different organizations across the private sector, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), academia, and government. Panel speakers represented organizations such as CARE USA, Carter Center, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), City of Clarkston, Coca-Cola Foundation, Harvard University, John Snow, Inc., Malaria Coalition (UK), Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)/World Health Organization (WHO), UNHCR, and USAID, among others.
Keynote speaker Dr. Anne Schuchat, Principal Deputy Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), stressed the continued threat from infectious diseases in the US and globally and the importance of ensuring that local communities are prepared and able to continue activities over time.
Michelle Nunn, CEO of CARE USA and the Keynote speaker on Day 2, was interviewed by Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Chief Medical Correspondent for CNN, and pointed to how CARE determines where to get involved and dedicate resources. “CARE values relationships that are longstanding and stays in countries for long-term and systematic engagement,” said Nunn, focusing on questions of capacity building and scale and creating sustainable solutions considering cultural and social context, finance, programming, and human resources.
Plenary panels on “Strengthening Public Health Systems” and “Managing Complex Supply Chains in Refugee Crisis Response” included representatives from PAHO/WHO, UNHCR, USAID, and other private sector and non-governmental organizations, addressed the increasing global connectedness of communities around the world and the importance of community partnerships in finding sustainable solutions. Panelists also highlighted the need for continuous learning and adaptation, both through education through universities and field knowledge. A final panel on “Matching Supply and Demand in Emergency Response” included representation from Crown Agents and International Procurement Agents (CAIPA), the UPS Foundation, and the World Food Programme, and highlighted the need for companies and NGOs to engage local communities both in preparedness and immediate post-crisis recovery, using data for surveillance, demand and supply visibility, and measuring impact.
Break-out workshop sessions focused on various topics including human resources and professionalization, public-private partnerships, collaboration and segmentation, modeling, visibility and analytics in decision-making, new technologies and digital platforms for the last-mile delivery, and new logistics management tools. Technology providers such as Llamasoft, Thrive GPO, eHealthAfrica, and Toilets for People also showcased new developments and products available for practitioners across various fields. Over 35 attendees presented posters on new projects and research related to supply chain and logistics for health and humanitarian challenges.
The conference also offered site visits to AmeriCold temperature-controlled facility, MedShare International headquarters, McKesson pharmaceutical distribution center, UPS distribution hub, the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport cargo and logistics operations, and the Global Growers farm which employs resettled refugees in the Atlanta area. Various participants praised the site visits as one of the highlights of the event, allowing for synergies and real-life application of the lessons learned during the panel and break-out sessions. Participants and speakers applauded the diversity of backgrounds, such as the representation of public and private sector organizations with academia and government, and the unique opportunities for open exchange and in-depth discussions among both the global health and humanitarian response communities. One participant praised the “provocative and captivating” keynote session with Michelle Nunn and Sanjay Gupta, while another emphasized the “open nature of the conference overall and the encouraging dialogue” that characterized each session. Generous sponsorship for the conference was provided by the UPS Foundation for the 8th year, and also by Imperial Health Sciences, the William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan, Chemonics, the Georgia Tech Stewart School of Industrial & Systems Engineering (ISyE), the Partnership for Supply Chain Management (PfSCM), and the Waffle House. To connect with the GA Tech Center for Health & Humanitarian Systems (CHHS) about future collaboration and events, please visit our website chhs.gatech.edu or email chhs@.gatech.edu.
We thank the 2016 participants for their enthusiastic support and dialogue and we look forward to the partnerships and new strategies that emerge from the week’s learnings! We look forward to seeing you at the next HHL Conference!
For further information about the 2016 participants and speakers, panel and workshop presentations, and photos and videos, please visit the conference website: http://www.chhs.gatech.edu/conference/2016.