A conversation with Jacqui Gavin, Deputy Head of Global Logistics
Jacqui Gavin has extensive experience in humanitarian outreach and emergency relief Logistics in challenging environments. Throughout her career, she has worked on emergencies in Pakistan, Myanmar, Tajikistan, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Belize, Sierra Leone, Angola, Indonesia, and Iraq. As Deputy Head of Global Logistics at International Medical Corps, she ensures that our operations in 30 countries worldwide are running smoothly.
What is Logistics and how does the Logistics team support International Medical Corps’ emergency relief programs worldwide?
Logistics is all about getting the right thing, to the right place at the right time. Humanitarian Relief Logistics is making that happen when a natural disaster like a tsunami, cyclone or earthquake has devastated supply/transportation routes and/or damaged buildings and homes – or when trying to reach those affected by man-made disasters like conflict. Contrary to popular belief, we do not have stocks of fairy dust to suddenly create hospitals, latrines or health centers; or a magic carpet to take us straight to Port-au-Prince post-earthquake, or to the plains of Kenya or Ethiopia to help those displaced by famine; nor do we have a stock of pumpkins and mice that can be dutifully transformed into 4-wheel drive vehicles, ambulances or trucks!
International Medical Corps’ Logistics staff are often the first onsite and routinely handle some of the most complex logistical challenges found in the world today – whether it’s airlifting ambulances onto islands in Southeast Asia; setting up a field hospital and sending doctors, nurses and medical equipment into Libya; or transporting clinic construction materials into the jungles of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Logistics team at International Medical Corps provides day-to-day support to their colleagues, and in-country programs, by organizing local procurement, storage, maintenance and distribution of all materials needed.
In-country operations are supported by a global coordination team that procures, tracks, ships internationally and serves as the focal point for the initial stages of an emergency response. International Medical Corps Logistics is further carried out by roving staff who supplement in-country capacity strengthening, field systems review, improvement implementation, and emergency response. They can also cover gaps and deploy to any crisis in the world within 24-hours.
“First, do not assume that the most important functions in a field hospital are performed by doctors and nurses; without strong logistical support and supply chain management the hospital will not be able to provide quality care for patients and may actually worsen outcomes by delaying transfer to a facility that can adequately manage patient need. Ensuring adequate stocks of medication and supplies during a complex political emergency can be extraordinarily difficult due to communication and transportation constraints within country as well as importation barriers. In addition, the rapidly shifting context of an active war may require packing up and moving the field hospital, as we had to do twice, which requires significant human, monetary, and logistical resources to accomplish.”
– Dr.Adam C. Levine, International Medical Corps Libya Emergency Volunteer
How does Logistics contribute to sustainable solutions for vulnerable communities?
There are many vulnerable communities affected by disasters who rely on International Medical Corps to support them from relief to self-reliance. Part of that process is also providing jobs and training for those who work with us in each of our country missions. We offer opportunities for work enabling local people to augment their incomes to support their families. In addition, we also work to develop our national, international and core staff to enhance their capability to respond when an emergency hits, or provide them with ongoing training and development support that they can then spread throughout their communities.
So when you donate to International Medical Corps, your donation not only provides lifesaving medical care but it also provides all the mechanisms needed to support our relief programs whether it’s Logistics staff shipping goods around the world, the truck driver transporting vital supplies, the logistician arranging to transport a doctor or nurse to the health clinic or the person ordering, shipping and distributing scrubs, pharmaceuticals and surgical instruments to medical staff so they can deliver lifesaving care.