Source: Asia Society Policy Institute
In less than a year, the COVID-19 pandemic has quickly become one of the defining global crises of the 21st century. Governments across the globe have been stretched to their fullest capacity to respond to the pandemic, including providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to frontline workers and at-risk populations.
No single government can carry this burden alone, and as private sector organisations across the world have stepped in to support national governments, it is clear that addressing this supply chain emergency calls for massive cooperation and coordination.
From the earliest days of the pandemic, the Australian government was hailed for its quick actions to contain the spread of COVID-19. And while the country was able to swiftly close its borders, the government’s collaboration between the public and private sector proved to be highly effective in the face of the virus. As the Australian government shifted focus beyond its borders to provide assistance to its nearest neighbours, it turned to Palladium for in-country support and logistics expertise.
Due to Palladium’s comprehensive experience in emergency response, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) approached the Emergency Humanitarian Logistics team for support for the first aid flights into Wuhan, China. Since then, the team has continued to work with DFAT partners to develop a range of appropriate response options, including supporting the World Health Organization and UNICEF with the delivery of COVID-19 testing kits, laboratory supplies, and essential medicines, and through the creation of ‘country kits’ to provide rapid support to frontline healthcare workers throughout the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.
Providing PPE and Humanitarian Relief
Since the start of 2020, Palladium has fulfilled service orders of more than 5 million units of PPE for Australia’s overseas humanitarian relief responses to COVID-19 and to the Australian National Medical Stockpile. These critical items have protected frontline workers, both in Australia and Asia-Pacific, which is no mean feat considering the global shortage of PPE, congested supply chains, and disrupted transportation sector.
Palladium also utilised global networks to access manufacturers in China and directly source and import millions of PPE units into Australia when global shortages were at a peak. To facilitate this challenge, Palladium became a ‘sponsor’ of the goods with the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration, which required demonstrating full technical compliance with Australian standards and medical device regulations.
In February, Palladium managed the purchase and delivery of humanitarian emergency relief supplies, including PPE and ventilators from the DFAT Brisbane and Sydney warehouses, to Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste, and China in response to the growing outbreak. The team also facilitated national and international airfreight movements of all the supplies to ensure efficiency and sound coordination of logistics.
And in May, the team provided logistical support for the transportation of COVID-19 GeneXpert testing equipment and PPE across the South Pacific. In total, Palladium delivered 60 COVID-19 country kits on behalf of the Australian government, including gloves, masks, goggles, and gowns, to support essential and frontline workers in countries such as Fiji, Timor-Leste, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Samoa, Tonga, Nauru, and Tuvalu. Palladium has also supplied DFAT support packages, including PPE, oxygen therapy equipment, and ventilators, to Bhutan and Indonesia.
Throughout 2020, Palladium expanded its already strong relationship with emergency response agencies to support the Australian Department of Health with the current pandemic. According to Palladium Senior Advisor Matthew Varley, this was a natural evolution of Palladium’s many years of logistical expertise and experience with technical support in disaster response, mitigation, and recovery, including infectious disease outbreaks.
“COVID-19 presented an opportunity for Palladium to use its optimised systems, longstanding supplier relations, agile management, and network of offices and agents to help Australia and countries throughout Oceania rise to the challenge that the pandemic presents,” Varley says.
These success stories further exemplify the need for collaboration across government and private sectors in tackling these global problems.
Vaccine Distribution is the Next Logistics Challenge
As the pandemic continues, there is a new and daunting challenge to be met: the distribution of vaccines. While the development of multiple vaccines across the globe will certainly go down as one of the major scientific achievements of the century, the distribution of these vaccines will be one of the century’s greatest challenges.
“We’re confident that our proven technical expertise, dedicated professionals, warehousing, and supply chain management capabilities establish Palladium as ready to rise to the challenge of vaccine distribution throughout the Pacific and beyond,” notes Palladium Director Matthew Everitt.
Everitt adds that the logistics team has proven its ability in rapidly establishing support services in remote, adverse, and challenging environments. “This will continue to be crucial as governments seek to partner with the private sector to manage complex supply chains, warehousing, and the provision of technical support necessary to ensure the needs of underserved populations are met at scale.”
As the world prepares for the massive effort of distributing the COVID-19 vaccine, the global health supply chain at large has never been more important, and partnerships with innovative private sector organisations will be crucial to its continued success.
Learn more about Palladium’s supply chain management capabilities, including humanitarian logistics, and see our webinar series on global health supply chain issues. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org.