For African countries, exportation of products is almost always a positive thing. Hence, where “largest exporter of” comes after the name of a country, it is without a doubt a positive, right? You could not be more wrong.
Improving Malaria Diagnostics (IMD), an organization supported by the United States Agency for International Development, two years ago released a report putting Nigeria on the spotlight for being the most prolific exporter of malaria on Earth. If there be a more horrifying title, we are yet to hear it.
Luis Benavente, director of IMD issued a statement at the time, citing the entrepreneurial nature of Nigerians, prompting them to travel extensively around the world, as a horror-movie contagion nightmare.
Malaria generally refers to the presence of malaria parasites in the bloodstream, which multiply over time and cause malarial symptoms, sometimes made possible by a weakened immune system. Nigerian citizens with such parasites travel abroad, where mosquitoes then pick up and spread the parasites from their blood, ensuring the spread of the disease beyond Nigerian borders.
It can be argued here that by transporting infected citizens all over the world, the logistics industry has had a rather large role to play in propagating the disease. To this we say, we also play a key role in preventing and curing it.
For insecticides manufactured using pyrethrum, the logistics industry is instrumental in ensuring the process of synthesizing the harvested product into a more potent state. While pyrethrum in itself has long been used as a traditional insecticide, modern technology allows for further processing into a more efficient final product. This requires the pyrethrum to get from the farm to the lab of choice in optimal condition, resulting in minimal wastage of cargo ruined in transit, therefore utilizing all available products to produce as much insecticide as possible to contribute to the war against malaria.
Once completed, the final product, insecticide, requires distribution. From the factory where insecticide is produced, the logistics industry ensures it reaches retailers for commercial use, industrial wholesale purchases and so forth.
Through careful planning, route selection and cargo load optimization, supply chain managers ensure that insecticides, mosquito coils and other repellent substances reach their destinations in such a timely manner as to be of assistance. This also extends to other materials such as insecticide treated nets, which require the use of logistics as a function to deliver to areas in humanitarian need, such as sites of natural disasters, or low income, malaria prone areas, including some parts of Western Kenya and Nyanza.
Logistics also supports the fight against malaria as a function of the medical sector. Where medication needed to treat or suppress malaria are required, supply chain managers make their use a reality by organizing how best to get them from source to medical facility. This includes high risk areas, such as the aftermath of a flood, which provides a challenge in terms of mode and route of delivery, and also puts delivery crews at risk of exposure.
The logistics industry, in such cases, do not just transport medication to such areas, transportation of people becomes a consideration. Similarly, where malaria patients need to be transported from point A to point B in search of medical attention, supply chain management as a function, helps identify the preferable mode of transport, along with the shortest route there. This also applies to doctors being brought in to malaria stricken areas to assist.
Whereas the logistics industry, hand in hand with select infected individuals, have played a major role in helping the illness spread, we continue to work on atoning for this by supporting the cure and prevention initiatives. Have you taken the initiative to protect yourself this festive season?