On the 30th of January 2020, the OMS declared a state of public health emergency of international concern following the outburst of an unidentified coronavirus in the province of Hubei in China. This fast spreading virus threw the global economy out of sync, with trade and travel restrictions undermining all industrials sectors. It is said the 2020 coronavirus outbreak could reduce China’s economy by 1% to 2%... However, that’s not our topic today.
Epidemic outbreaks occur every year. This Coronavirus is not the first -and probably not the last- global sanitary crisis to threaten the economy’s fragile equilibrium (think of the SARS outburst in 2003, the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, the 2014 Ebola epidemic.). In fact, with new challenges such as climate change, population density and urbanization surfacing, these accelerated epidemic outbreaks are likely to become more frequent which is why finding ways to curb them is crucial.
In situations of extreme sanitary urgency, the implementation of an emergency supply chain has been explicitly recognized by the World Health Organization as a key tool to successfully manage the propagation of deadly diseases and avoid pandemics.
The rise of supply chain visibility and management tools have shown great potential in defining demand and managing the delivery of medical supplies to critical areas in record time. A research on epidemics control and logistics operations carried out by Thomas K.Dasaklis, Costas P.Pappis, and Nikolaos P.Rachaniotis highlighted the importance of an optimized supply chain to face these -often unpredictable- circumstances:
‘Logistics operations play a crucial role during the containment effort of an epidemic outbreak as they strengthen the ability of all the parties involved to promptly respond and effectively control the situation,” they wrote. “Even at a long-term level, strategies adopted in commercial supply chains could be also adopted in the case of emergency and/or humanitarian supply chains in an effort to match supply with demand.’