The challenges of meeting fundamental human needs and responding to emergencies have been continuing and growing at a fast pace. Healthcare is in the forefront for many countries, with a wide range of focus areas including communicable and non-communicable diseases, health systems strengthening, disease prevention, and nutrition. Health emergencies, such as the Ebola outbreak and the ongoing Zika challenge, as well as natural and man-made disasters have impacted numerous communities around the world. These challenges disproportionally impact low income or vulnerable populations, complicating ongoing development needs in health, nutrition, education, and other key areas. Whether we face an emergency or a long term development challenge, there are often many actors who play a role, limited resources available, as well as variability, uncertainly, and potential disruptions in the demand and supply chains. All of these factors highlight the importance of logistics and supply chain management in these contexts.
In light of these grand challenges, the Conference on Health & Humanitarian Logistics (HHL) provides an open forum to discuss new solutions in health systems, disaster preparedness and response, and long-term development. The conference offers a unique platform for participants to discuss challenges, share best practices, and explore potential collaborations, with the goal of enhancing efficiency and effectiveness in health and humanitarian systems, to ultimately improve and save lives around the world.
This year’s conference focused broadly on “resilience,” i.e., the ability to meet basic needs without reliance on external assistance. The discussions particularly focused on achieving sustainable resilience through supply chain practices, policy and collaboration, funding/development, and capacity building. The agenda featured a Keynote Panel with four highly esteemed representatives from the Ministries of Health in Rwanda, Liberia and Somalia providing a broad perspective on some of the priority areas, challenges, and successful initiatives.
The agenda featured four Plenary Panels focused on:
1) Implementation of Resilience in Supply Chains: Perspectives, Pitfalls, and Winning Strategies; 2) Private Sector Engagement in Health and Humanitarian Supply Chain Management and Logistics; 3) Improving Transportation for Humanitarian and Development Outcomes and 4) The Role of Sustainable Procurement in Achieving Resilience. The multifaceted program also included over 50 break-out presentation and workshop sessions led by practitioners and thought leaders on current challenges and practices in health and humanitarian systems. In addition, participants received a unique opportunity to tour DP World’s Inland port and observe the utilization of drones in health supply chains at Zipline LLC, connecting conference discussions and activities on the ground.
Since its inception 11 years ago, the conference has hosted participants from 80 countries around the world in locations such as the United States, Germany, Malaysia, Mexico, South Africa, Denmark and United Arab Emirates. The 2019 conference in Kigali, Rwanda, drew over 200 attendees from 31 countries and 105 organizations, including world leaders in the health and humanitarian sectors, current and former ministers of health, representatives from governmental and non-governmental organizations, industry, foundations, and academia.
This year’s conference was made possible thanks to the generous sponsorship from key partners such as the UPS Foundation and Logenix International, the premiere sponsors for HHL 2019, and other generous sponsors including Pfizer, Chemonics, Vitalliance, Freight In Time, Georgia Tech School of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Astral Aviation, and Celsian Consulting.
Through group discussions and interactive poster sessions, covering a broad set of topics and applications, participants had ample opportunity for networking and discussions around new opportunities and implementations.
Active on Twitter (#HHL2019/ #HHLConf) during and after the event, participants shared thoughts and reflections, and praised the conference and its organizers: “I made contacts; I learned new things; and I enjoyed myself! What else could one hope for?! It was a special event, and I hope to attend future ones.”
The Center for Health and Humanitarian Systems (CHHS) at Georgia Tech carried the torch in kick-starting and organizing the conference during its first three years; partner organizations, including INSEAD, MIT Humanitarian Response Lab, Northeastern University, and NC State, joined as co-organizers over the past eight years. The organizing team has also included People that Deliver and the International Association of Public Health Logisticians for the past two years. With overwhelming support from our participants, we look forward to continually serving as a platform that springboards collaboration and change for the communities they serve. Looking forward to seeing you at HHL 2020!
Keynote and plenary presentations and video are available on the conference website: https://chhs.gatech.edu/conference/2019/agenda.