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Better healthcare needs better logistics

We have seen a tremendous reduction in poverty in recent decades, driven mainly by economic development in China. In India, the number of extreme poor has also dropped significantly since the 1980s. The continent of Africa is next in line to follow this trend, and I, like many others, hope to see this happen.

More money, more healthcare

Rising wealth leads to rising healthcare standards. And we are seeing this across the globe. Lifespan and quality of life are on the rise, especially for the poor and those climbing out of poverty. Millions in emerging economies have increasing access to medical treatment thanks to rising incomes, growing levels of prosperity and innovation.

Global spending on healthcare is forecasted to reach around $1.3 trillion by 2018. The World Economic Forum estimates that by 2020 one third of all global health expenditure will be in emerging markets.

Growing demand, growing supply

These trends are challenging the life sciences and healthcare industry to meet the growing demand. And that’s precisely why we are seeing pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers expending their reach in the emerging markets and entering international marketplaces.

Overall, global trade in life sciences and healthcare is growing at a rapid pace. Supply chains are growing, too – not only in size but also in complexity. Flexibility and efficiency are key to meeting the increasing demand for life-saving medicines and medical devices in many new markets around the world.

Logistics plays an essential role – and it’s logistics providers who need to tackle the complexity of these expanding supply chains so that these sensitive products not only reach the people in need in time but are also in the right condition upon arrival.

Overall, global trade in life sciences and healthcare is growing at a rapid pace.

That’s a lot easier said than done. The pharmaceuticals industry is a highly regulated market that is subject to stringent controls. And the medicines themselves can be extremely sensitive to temperature. Moving these goods across borders, especially in emerging markets, requires expertise and precision that currently only few can deliver. For example, we employ pharmacists around the world to oversee our operations, ensuring we comply with product and safety standards and helping us improve quality at every link in the supply chain.

But it doesn’t stop there. Any cutting edge logistics company needs to play an active role in the regulatory dialogue, be it the EU’s guidelines on Good Distribution Practice (GDP), the US serialization requirements or similar discussions in places like Brazil, China and Korea.

Innovation makes it better

Providing life-saving products is a big responsibility, one with risks that far outweigh those in a typical supply chain. In order to really add value to this vital industry – and to continue to do so in the future – logistics companies need to continuously develop new products and solutions to optimize the supply chain. You need to understand the challenges facing life sciences companies and create solutions to not only help them meet today’s challenges but also anticipate tomorrow’s. Have a look at some of the solutions we’ve come up with at dhl.com.

An opportunity to help save lives

With global demand growing steadily, we not only see an opportunity to grow our business, we also see an opportunity to help save lives. For example, our global network allows us to transport life-saving medicines overnight across the globe. However, we understand that we need to continue to challenge ourselves and evolve in order to help our customers further expand their reach into new geographical areas, new markets and even new fields. For example, the demand for clinic trials logistics is becoming increasingly global, and the demand for global logistics in the biotechnology field is climbing.

We’ve seen it happen in China, and I’m confident the coming decades will see a similar trend in India and Africa. Poverty around the world is on the decline and healthcare standards are on the rise. As the life sciences and healthcare industry expands and transforms to meet the growing needs of the world, the logistics behind it needs to offer the expertise needed to get medicine and equipment to the people in need. In the simplest terms: if logistics gets better, healthcare will get better.

Video: Life on planet earth is getting better – thanks to global trade

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