Amid growing concerns about a Covid-19 third wave in South Africa, the Professional Body for Supply Chain Management in Southern Africa (Sapics) has highlighted the logistics and supply chain management issues that must be addressed to ensure that lives can be saved with a sustainable supply of medical oxygen.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), affordable and sustainable access to oxygen has been a growing challenge in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) since the start of the pandemic.
“In July last year, patients in Eastern Cape hospitals were reportedly fighting over oxygen. The short supply of medical oxygen is currently claiming lives in India, as the second wave of the pandemic continues to overwhelm the country’s healthcare system. We need to ensure a secure, sustainable supply of medical oxygen in South Africa,” comments Sapics president Keabetswe Mpane.
“Medical oxygen is considered a hazardous material to transport. Specialised vehicles and specially trained drivers are required. Many hospitals in South Africa rely on oxygen cylinders rather than on-site storage tanks. Cylinder deliveries are a logistical issue. Empty cylinders must be collected timeously to be refilled. Hospital and clinic staff need to understand this process. They need supply chain management skills and knowledge to ensure that they understand things like demand planning, turnaround times, and reverse logistics, to ensure an uninterrupted supply of oxygen. This is a complex supply chain that lives are depending on.”
According to Mpane, healthcare is one of the sectors in which Sapics is playing a critical role by building supply chain management excellence in individuals and enterprises through world-class education, training and events, internationally recognised certifications, comprehensive resources, and a community of accomplished industry professionals.