Health and Humanitarian Conference Provides Forum for Learning and Collaboration

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The devastating earthquake and tsunami that ravaged Japan on March 11, 2011, occurred exactly one week after the third annual Health and Humanitarian Logistics Conference, amplifying the conference’s call to articulate the opportunities, challenges, and successes in preparing for and responding to health and humanitarian crises, particularly on issues that relate to logistics.

Bringing together participants from15 countries, the 2011 Health and Humanitarian Logistics Conference provided a forum for nongovernmental organizations (NGO), corporations, academia, and government to learn and collaborate across their institutions, promote system-wide improvements in their organizations and the sector as a whole, identify important research issues to be addressed, and establish priorities.

Occurring on March 3 and March 4, 2011, on the Georgia Tech campus in Atlanta, the conference met its objectives through panel discussions, focused workshops, lunchtime group discussions, and interactive poster sessions all delivered by representatives from the humanitarian sector, government and military, NGOs, foundations and private industry, and academia. The international gathering drew participants from countries such as Canada, Colombia, Finland, Germany, Great Britain, India, Kenya, the Netherlands, Senegal, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Uganda, the United States, and Zambia.

For those unable to attend this year’s conference, or who would like to review panel discussions, videos are now available at the conference website.

Stephen Cross, Georgia Tech executive vice president for research, joined conference co-chairs Ozlem Ergun, Pinar Keskinocak, and Julie Swann in opening the conference. Panel discussions over the two-day period included:

  • Logistics of reducing impact of communicable diseases
  • Delivering solutions for water and sanitation
  • Technology to improve logistics decisions
  • Preparedness to prevent, mitigate, or improve disaster response and recovery I
  • Preparedness to prevent, mitigate, or improve disaster response and recovery II

The panels comprised representatives from Aidmatrix; American Red Cross; Emory University; Georgia Institute of Technology; Girls in Kind International; INSEAD; John Snow, Inc.; Kuehne+Nagel; Living Water International; LLamasoft, Inc.; MIT Supply Chain Management Program; National Preparedness Directorate, FEMA/DHS; Oxfam America; Oxfam Great Britain; Partners in Health; SIPRI Ethical Cargo; Task Force for Global Health – International Trachoma Initiative; UNICEF Supply Division, Copenhagen; World Food Programme; and the World Health Organization.

The more than forty posters in the poster session added breadth to the topics covered. Click here  to see a list of posters submitted and read the abstracts.

On the afternoon of the second day, at the conclusion of the conference, participants had the opportunity to attend three concurrent workshops: Managing Performance in Humanitarian Logistics, USACE Simulation and Modeling Program for Disaster Preparedness, and Technology at Work in Humanitarian Relief: Aidmatrix and UPSTrackpad Case Studies.

Georgia Tech and The UPS Foundation, the charitable arm of United Parcel Service, were key sponsors of the 2011 conference, generously supporting the conference at the Leadership level. Additional sponsors included Focus Humanitarian Assistance; Northrop Grumman; Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC); and Georgia Tech’s College of Engineering, Distance Learning and Professional Education, Health System Institute, H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Institute for Leadership and Entrepreneurship, and the Supply Chain & Logistics Institute.

The Center for Health and Humanitarian Logistics, a unit of the Supply Chain & Logistics Institute and part of the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Georgia Tech, has as its vision to improve humanitarian logistics (including short- or long-term, man-made or natural disasters) and ultimately the human condition by system transformations through education, outreach, projects and research.


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    Edie Cohen
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    Fletcher Moore
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