Decision makers in health and humanitarian fields are faced with unique challenges – for example, limited infrastructure, supplies, and personnel – on a daily basis. Potential supply chain disruptions and uncertainty – combined with limited resources, both human and financial – add to the challenge.
To help address these issues, the 10th Annual Health & Humanitarian Logistics Conference (HHLC) brought together leaders and practitioners from around the world to address topics such as health emergencies, health systems strengthening, and disaster preparedness, response, and recovery. HHLC is one of the few conferences that brings representatives from both health and humanitarian arenas together to highlight such challenges and share best practices. It also serves as a forum for collaboration and coordination across multiple sectors and organizations.
“The motivation for convening this conference has been two-fold: to address natural and man-made disasters that affect thousands of people every year, as well as ongoing development needs in health and well-being, nutrition, education, and other key areas,” said Pinar Keskinocak, William W. George Chair and Professor in the Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISyE), the College of Engineering’s ADVANCE Professor, and co-founder and director of the Center for Health and Humanitarian Systems (CHHS).
This year’s conference was held on July 18 and 19 in Dubai, UAE. The conference featured numerous workshops and panel discussions, with approximately 200 speakers and attendees from 44 countries and 122 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.
The conference began with a keynote presentation from Jagan Chapagain, the Under-Secretary-General for Programmes and Operation for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). Chapagain discussed the many challenges faced during public health emergencies and the strategies to strengthen the system to better meet the needs of the public during normal times and beyond.
“Strong health systems help prevent humanitarian crises,” explained Chapagain. “They provide a basis for early interventions so that quick action can be taken to stop the spread of epidemics and also help reduce the impact of non-communicable diseases. At the same time humanitarian issues could provide the necessary resources and impetus to strengthen the health systems in the countries affected by crises. Each approach reinforces the other.”
“We hope that the presentations and discussions the conference hosted over the years help us articulate the pressing challenges related to health and humanitarian systems and inspire new ideas and practices toward positive change,” added Keskinocak. “Given the complexity of these problems, collaboration among different entities is essential in generating sustainable solutions. We hope that the conference will continue to foster new partnerships and synergies across the many different organizations represented by the attendees.”
While CHHS carried the torch in kick-starting and organizing the conference in Atlanta during its first three years, other organizations, including INSEAD, MIT Humanitarian Response Lab, Northeastern University, and NC State, joined as co-organizers over the past seven years, also in collaboration with People that Deliver and the International Association of Public Health Logisticians in 2018.
Previous conference locations include the United States, Germany, Malaysia, Mexico, South Africa, and Denmark.
Conference organizers are grateful for the generous sponsorship from key partners. UPS Foundation has been the premiere sponsor for nine consecutive years, and other sponsors include Chemonics, The Coca-Cola Company, Imperial Health Sciences, Imres, ISyE, Johnson & Johnson, Kühne Stiftung, Partnership for Supply Chain Management, Ryder, Pfizer, Walmart, and William Davidson Institute.
In addition to the conference, CHHS offers an annual professional certificate in Health & Humanitarian Supply Chain Management. The intensive six-day course brings together international participants in global health care roles to learn how to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their organizations.
To learn more about CHHS and its activities, visit www.chhs.gatech.edu.
Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering