DHL and Gavi form vaccine delivery alliance

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Deutsche Post DHL Group (DP-DHLG) is teaming up with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, in a global partnership to improve vaccine supply chains.

Over the next three years, the Germany-based global logistics giant will provide Gavi-supported countries with efficient supply chain solutions to improve health care delivery.

A joint statement by the two partners said: “As immunisation programmes expand to include new, life-saving vaccines and strive to reach more people, often in remote areas, they are increasingly constrained by outdated supply chains.

“With vaccine volumes continuing to increase and the persistence of often weak or broken health systems, there is a critical need for improvements in immunisation supply chain infrastructure.”

This is not Gavi’s first such alliance. In October 2016, the Rwandan government launched the world’s first national drone delivery service to transport medical supplies to hard-to-reach places.

While the service is focused initially on the transfer of blood, a partnership between US-based express firm UPS, Gavi and Californian firm Zipline will help expand it to other types of medicines and vaccines.

The drones, designed and operated by Zipline, will make up to 150 on-demand deliveries of blood to 21 transfusing facilities located in the western half of the country.

In this new alliance, DP-DHLG and Gavi aim to increase immunisation coverage, reduce vaccine wastage and better ensure vaccine availability and potency and will ultimately help reduce child mortality. 

Kenya is one of the first countries to benefit from the new partnership, announcing an initiative with DHL, the logistics unit of DP-DHLG.

Together Gavi, DHL and the Kenyan Ministry of Health will test a dedicated transportation management solution for the efficient distribution of vaccines throughout the East African country. Drones were not mentioned in the joint release.

Incorporating a control tower called a Transport Support Hub, to better manage and coordinate third-party transport carriers and the use of DHL’s own global transportation network, the solution aims to improve the speed and reliability of vaccine deliveries to hospitals, clinics and medical professionals in the country.  

Frank Appel, chief executive of Deutsche Post DHL Group, said: “This enhanced relationship will allow Deutsche Post DHL Group to contribute its world class supply chain expertise and network towards making a real difference to vaccine distribution in the developing world – and, with this, to improve lives.”

Dr Seth Berkley, chief executive of Gavi, said: “Robust vaccine supply chains are a vital part of building strong health systems, so that children, parents, and communities can be reached wherever they live with life-saving vaccines.

“DHL’s expertise in healthcare delivery and its footprint in sub-Saharan Africa will help the partnership develop and test new innovative solutions aimed at increasing the health impact in Gavi-supported countries.”

This project aligns directly with Gavi’s private sector engagement strategy, which seeks to build a cluster of a private sector partners to address critical bottlenecks to immunisation coverage and equity in Gavi-supported countries. 

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