KARACHI: The US Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission Director in Pakistan, Dr Andrew Sisson, inaugurated the newly renovated central warehouse at the Sindh Industrial Trading Estate on Friday.
The Karachi-based, centrally run warehouse is used to store and distribute a number of reproductive health products such as safe birthing kits, HIV/AIDS and hepatitis screening kits that are supplied to 140 districts in Pakistan.
The warehouse is managed by the population programme wing of the federal government’s planning and development division. With American assistance, the storage capacity was increased from 18,000 square feet to 50,000 square feet. The facility was equipped with better storing tools, enabling the central depot to handle the ever-growing volume of health commodities needed in the country.
The state-of-the-art warehouse now has three storage blocks apart from the administration block, a modern pallet and racking system and three forklifts. A warehouse management system has also been developed to automate shipments and inventory, and to handle all transactions through barcode scanning.
“In 1985, the warehouse was initially designed and constructed by the US government support,” said Dr Sission. “The expansion and rehabilitation project is part of a broader effort by the US government to assist the Pakistani government in improving the operations of the country’s health and population sector.”
He said that proper warehousing means storing supplies so that they are always available, accessible, and in good condition. “The project has not only increased the storage capacity but will also improve the supply chain mechanism of essential healthcare products throughout the country by strengthening logistics management information systems, streamlining distribution systems, identifying financial resources for procurement and supply chain operations,” Dr Sission said. “The project has enhanced forecasting and procurement planning.”
A logistics management information system adviser, Inamullah Khan, said that in 2008, the population welfare ministry requested USAID-Pakistan to help improve the existing warehouse. USAID provided $2.7 million to its community rehabilitation and infrastructure support programme in 2009 to begin the expansion work, which was completed in 2011. Under a contract, the programme will help procure contraceptives worth $89 million from 2010 to 2014. In the financial year of 2011 only, the project procured health commodities worth $23.2 million. USAID plans to ship healthcare commodities worth $20 million during 2012.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 31st, 2012.