As an integrated logistics and market access provider and the largest logistics provider in South Africa, serving as a gateway to Africa in over twenty countries on the continent, Imperial is well-positioned to play an active and integral role in the distribution of critical COVID-19 vaccines in the country. Healthcare is a key industry of operation and growth, and a core contributor to Imperial's purpose – connecting Africa and the world and improving people's lives with access to quality products and services.
Over the years, Imperial has built a strong track-record with its capabilities in transportation, warehousing and distribution in South Africa, leveraging its own infrastructure and that of its partners to safely and reliably deliver quality products across the country.
"Our core capabilities span the breadth and depth of the supply chain, and our particular expertise in the healthcare sector uniquely positions us to ensure that vaccines are distributed safely and reliably to a complex outpatient network across South Africa," says Mohammed Akoojee, Imperial's Group Chief Executive Officer. "Our track record includes the widespread distribution of millions of anti-retroviral and other critical medicines in complex and challenging markets in Africa, as well as the ongoing supply of vaccines in the South African government's paediatric programme. We also reach thousands of outpatient distribution points in South Africa as often as required, and are therefore able to ensure that wastage is minimised and last-mile distribution is both compliant and efficient."
Imperial's clearing and forwarding capability manages products from point of manufacture or distribution outside South Africa to distribution centres in-country, with full tracking capabilities. Our warehousing capabilities include over 48,000 m² under roof across Cape Town and Pretoria, with over 3,000 pallet locations located in cold storage.
Our transportation network is extensive, with bulk and fine capabilities across more than 5,400 outpatient distribution points in South Africa in both the public and private sector, including pharmacies, hospitals, doctors and clinics. Temperature monitoring, cold chain packaging, security measures and track and trace capabilities augment our transportation offering, with integrated systems allowing for full visibility throughout the supply chain, as well as the option of activating serialisation tracking.
"Aside from maintaining cold chain integrity, one of the critical success factors of the vaccine roll-out in South Africa will be access to a network of trained nurses who can administer the vaccine, particularly in rural areas where hospitals are not easily accessible," says Akoojee. "Our PPLE Healthcare business has 600 nurses available for deployment, as well as the ability to train additional nursing staff. In addition, the Unjani Clinic network of 80 clinics across South Africa provides accessible, affordable and quality healthcare to communities in low income areas, including the administration of vaccines, and has recorded over 1,7 million patient consultations to-date."
A formal Request for Quotation (RFQ) for the logistics and distribution of vaccines in South Africa has been issued by the National Department of Health and Imperial is participating in the process, following which we will await an outcome. Imperial is also well positioned to play an active role in the distribution of vaccines in a number of other countries across the continent. Where feasible, we will participate as tender processes are formalised for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations in our countries of operation in the rest of Africa.