The world is once again teetering on the brink of a global health crisis. A Yellow Fever outbreak has been reported in Angola, which has already killed 277 people since December, and there are fears that it could become a global emergency due to the fact that vaccinations in the country have run out and only six million people have been vaccinated. Angola has a population of over 24 million.
In the Journal of the American Medical Association, US scientists said that there is a real possibility that infection numbers could quickly increase. Indeed, there have already been reports of cases in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Kenya and China, which could have far reaching consequences for procurement and global supply chains.
The DRC is a key sourcing destination for tin, gold, tantalum and tungsten, which are widely used in electronics. Kenya meanwhile is a well known exporter of tea and coffee and it goes without saying how important China is in terms of global manufacturing.
Without the necessary vaccinations, an epidemic is becoming a very real possibility, which would not only keep workers at home and out of factories, but also potentially shut down logistics networks.
Take the fashion industry for instance. Around 40% of the world’s clothing and 60% of its footwear is sourced from China, meaning that disruption to Chinese supply chains could cause the fashion industry to grind to a standstill.
Even if there are only a few cases in countries outside Angola the potential for disruption still exists. If one person at a factory catches it then the fear will keep colleagues at home, while foreign workers will almost certainly be called home.
Mitigating the risk of a global health crisis is no easy feat, but action needs to be taken and that should involve procurement. Vaccinations are the biggest hope for both public health and, in turn, supply chain stability, and so businesses would do well to work with aid workers to help distribute vaccinations more effectively. Tackling the mass public panic that can come from a lack of understanding over how the virus spreads through providing advice and educating suppliers can also go some way to minimising labour shortages of an outbreak.
Beyond that the function would be well advised to prepare alternative sources of supply and logistics routes.
Only by doing this will the function mitigate supply chain risk and help stem the spread of such deadly diseases.
If the epidemic could be predicted, then vaccinations would be mass produced and distributed, and preventative measures rolled out to stop the virus in its tracks before it can reach these pivotal supplier markets. The point is that these emergencies are unpredictable in both their nature and in identifying the global regions hit the hardest, and are often difficult to contain quickly enough to avoid disruption.
This article is a piece of independent writing by a member of Procurement Leaders’ content team.