The challenges of meeting fundamental human needs and responding to emergencies have been growing at a daunting pace. Healthcare is in the forefront for many countries, with a wide range of focus areas including childhood survival, communicable and non-communicable diseases, and nutrition. Critical health emergencies, such as the Ebola outbreak and the ongoing Zika challenge (as well as natural and man-made disasters have ravaged numerous communities around the world).
The negative effect of emergencies is disproportionally high on low income or vulnerable populations, complicating ongoing needs in health, nutrition, education, and other key areas. Whether an emergency or a long term development challenge, there are often many actors, limited resources, variability and 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 annual Conference on Health & Humanitarian Logistics provides an open forum to discuss new solutions in health systems, disaster preparedness and response, and long-term development. Co-organized by the Center for Health and Humanitarian Systems (CHHS) at Georgia Institute of Technology, INSEAD, MIT Humanitarian Response Lab, and Northeastern University, 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, and ultimately improving and saving lives around the world.
2017 marked the 9th year of the conference, which took place during June 7-9, in Copenhagen, Denmark at the UN City, hosted and co-organized by the UNICEF Supply Division. The event drew over 200 attendees from 39 countries and 127 organizations, including non-governmental organizations and UN agencies as well as government, industry, foundations, and academia.
The agenda featured 3 plenary panel sessions and 53 break-out presentation and workshop sessions led by practitioners and thought leaders on current challenges and solutions in health and humanitarian logistics. 31 posters were presented, providing a platform for networking and discussions around new tools and implementations.
Dr. Richard Brennan, Director of Emergency Operations for the World Health Organization (WHO) Emergencies Programme division, delivered the opening keynote, and addressed the role of logistics in health and humanitarian response and the importance of global, national and local capacity building, cross-sector collaboration and partnerships, and performance measurement. Brennan led the Ebola Response as the Director at the WHO headquarters from October 2014 to January 2016 and now oversees the organization’s response to global health emergencies as part of the new Emergencies Programme, from preparedness and prevention to response, and from humanitarian emergencies to disease outbreaks.
Plenary panel sessions included presentations focused on: 1) Global Health Emergencies; 2) Innovation and Influencing Markets; and 3) Ensuring Sustainability of Supply Chain Systems Strengthening Interventions. Keynote and plenary presentations are available on the conference website: chhs.gatech.edu/conference/2017/program/panels.
Participants were active on Twitter (#2017HHLConf) throughout the event, sharing points and reflections, reacting to the presentations and workshops. Participants also commented that the conference was “very educational and allowed for great networking among participants” and “the workshops were well-organized, insightful, and very informative.”
The conference could not have been possible without the generous sponsorship from key partners such as the UPS Foundation, the premiere sponsor for the 9th year, Imperial Health Sciences, Johnson & Johnson, the William David Institute at the University of Michigan, and the Partnership for Supply Chain Management.
Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering