Over 90 million Nigerians have zero access to electricity. These individuals live in rural communities that unfortunately lack many basic amenities, such as operational healthcare facilities. These communities are stuck with substandard healthcare centers that are underdeveloped and deficient in basic drugs and biological items. Due to this, the rate of disease morbidity and mortality in these rural communities is at an all-time high. Martha is one such Nigerian that resides in these communities. She was born in a community healthcare facility that lacked the necessary vaccines that she needed at birth and so at 3 years old, she contracted a terrible case of Polio, an incurable disease that could have been prevented if she had access to the Polio vaccine at birth. Martha is just one of the millions that have been afflicted with lacking access to important healthcare.
In the bid to solve the issue of access to healthcare, the government has made efforts to ensure the medicine is made affordable. But of what use is the affordability of drugs when they are not readily accessible to the end users? Hence the importance of Last Mile delivery in the health sector.
The Last Mile is the end user. It is a system of delivering products to final consumers. But in the healthcare sector, Last Mile goes beyond just delivering to the final user. Because of temperature and time sensitivity, delivering healthcare items to final consumers, several factors need to be put in place.
During the course of the day-to-day at an average hospital, a range of sensitive items are transported in and out of the facility. Biological agents, food, pharmaceuticals, personal protective equipment, blood, vaccines, injections, insulin shots, and anti-venom are just some of these delicate items. These are temperature-sensitive and time-dependent items that require certain levels of careful and considerate delivery conditions as well as timely and thermal.
There are quite a number of key challenges that plague the last mile delivery making it hard for millions of people to have adequate access to drugs. From the lack of data and information systems on inventories, terrible executions of storage, and shortage of logistics personnel to the lack of proper equipment to handle and maintain the products.
When transporting healthcare items that require proper care, like many of the challenges, the lack of proper equipment hinders the process. Due to the temperature sensitivity of a lot of these healthcare items, they can’t be stored and handled carelessly. Right from production and acquisition, these health products need to be immediately stored in such ways they are maintained at cool and controlled temperatures at each point until administration. With a cold chain storage at each point of the delivery process, these items are well preserved until reaching the final user. The closest healthcare facility to Martha’s community was 50km away. While that may not seem like a distance, due to bad roads leading to the community and its lack of electricity, any journey from the facility to the community to deliver vaccines would render the vaccines useless upon arrival if not well packaged and stored.
This is why it is important that pharmaceutical products, as well as sensitive biological items, are transported and stored in a complete cold chain. A high-quality cold chain service allows health care workers to deliver lifesaving items to those in dire need. Ecotutu is one of such cold chain services that seek to enable the healthcare sector with cold chain last-mile delivery solutions. Having been able to identify the key challenges of the last mile, Ecotutu has developed sustainable logistic services as well as cold storage solutions to bridge the gap in the healthcare sector.
The Last Mile delivery is a system that enables everyone, urban and rural dwellers, to have the access to the healthcare that they need. It ensures that regardless of where an individual is they can still have the opportunity to access quality healthcare items they need. By solving the problems of the Last Mile, providing a delightful customer experience, on-time deliveries, and the numerous other challenges associated with this last leg of delivery, individuals like Martha living in communities that have no access to electricity can at the very least get vaccinated when needed or have access to blood. A well-functioning last mile system in the health sector opens up possibilities and creates hope for millions of people, not just in Nigeria but, all over the world.