Eric Delgado
Director General
Grupo SICAMSA
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View from the Top

Health Industry Logistics Challenges Exposed

By Miriam Bello | Tue, 11/17/2020 - 12:58

Q: What made Grupo SICAMSA a trusted partner for the sector during COVID-19?

A: This was an unprecedented event that caught all health systems, governments and suppliers by surprise. We responded quickly and have doubled our efforts to ensure supply. We have been working on the logistics element of COVID-19 diagnostic testing. Due to logistic limitations regarding flights and ground transportation in Mexico, we had to make an extra effort to continue supplying and supporting our clients.

We have identified the states with the higher number of tests to offer equal attention to all our clients. While Mexico has been encouraging economic reactivation, logistics ad mobility flows are still restricted, especially flights. Still, all the samples we have worked with have been safely delivered, without disruption or incident.

Q: What challenges did SICAMSA face due to changes in the government’s centralized purchasing scheme?

A: We received requests from institutions asking us to modify our contract to avoid affecting medicine supply because suppliers were struggling to deliver the minimum of services. The disorganization of public tenders was further affected by the pandemic, alongside scarcity in sanitary products due to increasing demand from other countries. Shortages and elevated prices opened the door to a black market that endangered the population due to the unknown precedence of such products. SICAMSA and the formal industry had to find ways to supply quality products to fill those gaps but COFERIS was slow with approvals and permits, which was also a barrier.

We are facing unknown terms for medicine tenders and distribution while there is also uncertainty regarding the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine when it arrives. The private sector has tried to reach out to the government to fix this but we have not obtained a clear response on how things will be managed or if the private sector will be economically supported due to the financial crisis that COVID-19 generated.

I am concerned about future medicine supply. We have oncological treatments for children being stolen, counterfeit influenza vaccines and a restricted supply of this same product. In the past, the public and private sectors would offer this vaccine. However, this year, its distribution has been limited to the public sector. Aside from this being a hit to the private sector, it means fewer access options for the population that would normally acquire this privately because they felt more comfortable going to their family doctor.

All these decisions and uncertainty have pushed the private sector to find new ways to sustain companies. Even before COVID-19, Mexico’s health system was already faltering.

Q: What are your expectations regarding the Santa Lucia airport?

A: This is another delicate subject that has been highly questioned by the logistics industry. It has become a politicized subject where public opinion is the only one that matters, despite the lack of viability or logic of the project. NAIM was closer to the city, which would make transportation and connection with AICM easier.

The Santa Lucia airport will bring growth to that area. For the user, however, it will only generate more complications. I see more opportunity and less expenditure in investing in airports nearer the city instead of building a dubiously functional one. Experts on the subject predict the aerospace industry will recover in 10 years. But even if the forecast were better, this industry is slowing down, meaning that investing in more airports might not be the best bet. Instead, using Toluca, Puebla or Cuernavaca could have the same functionality or even be more efficient. Improving airline services could result in greater efficiency. 

I see a very difficult transition for logistics companies to using Santa Lucia. Operating in Mexico City is expensive. Operating in Santa Lucia will be expensive and the airport will be far from the city.

 

Grupo SICAMSA is a logistics company specialized in complementing its clients’ supply chain and ensuring the correct collection, distribution and delivery of products on a national and international scale. 

Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Journalist and Industry Analyst