Demographic and nutritional changes in Latin American (LATAM) have established obesity as a widespread condition. The region is now the most obese in the world, with 56% of the adult population considered overweight. More worrying still, of course, is that obesity is a precursor to severe health issues such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders and even cancer. Deaths from obesity-related diseases have risen, along with the cost of treating them. How can life sciences and healthcare companies in Latin America help to relieve this collective burden of excess? DHL sheds some light on the industry’s mitigation efforts.

Preventing obesity-related disease in the long run

According to John Price of Americas Market Intelligence (AMI) speaking at the DHL Global Life Sciences & Healthcare Conference in Miami last June, the rise in LATAM obesity can be explained by the combination of unhealthy eating habits, globalization, stress, and sedentary lifestyles.

It should come as no surprise that governments in the region are fighting this “collective waddling into early graves”. PAHO, the Pan American Health Organization, reported seven countries in Latin America—Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay—that have adopted measures to improve eating habits in schools. These include providing drinking water, restricting the sale of processed food, and actively promoting exercise.

Defining the right combination of nutritional, educational and lifestyle advice can prevent health complications and help LATAM win the battle of the bulge in the long run. But the region also needs effective solutions with an immediate impact.

Securing effective solutions with immediate impact

Medical express solutions can make a big difference in the short term, and therefore play a vital role. This type of logistics service provides the fastest possible connection between a patient and the primary point of care. It allows doctors to receive up-to-date and accurate clinical samples for diagnostic decision making and it helps them to track treatment outcomes.

Patients with obesity-related health issues can attend a sampling or clinical facility to provide blood work or other specimens. Using medical express services, each sample is then delivered to the testing or research facility within a specified and critical timeframe. Typically, this necessitates strict end-to-end temperature-controlled transportation, a robust logistics chain with contingency measures in place so that samples get to their destination when and as needed, and may also require individualized handling and specialized packaging to ensure sample integrity and quality.

DHL Medical Express services are designed to meet the most rigorous life sciences and healthcare transportation requirements. And providing these services requires a deep knowledge of all country-specific regulations and health requirements, combined with robust contingency measures.

More importantly, DHL as an integrator is leveraging its superior infrastructure to introduce more cost-effective transportation solutions to this region. By enabling key stakeholders in the clinical research community to operate more efficiently, DHL is also allowing previous logistics expenditure to be redirected to additional research and development, potentially opening access to a larger number of patients.

Currently, DHL is expanding its integrated network and dedicated solutions across LATAM – solutions that have proved reliable in North America, Europe, and increasingly Asia. From north to south, from the Dominican Republic to Argentina, and rapidly expanding into the largest Latin American markets, DHL Medical Express solutions are effectively and securely connecting patients with their primary point of care. 

Outlook for medical express logistics

Patients with obesity-related health issues will continue to rely on the LATAM life sciences and healthcare industry to improve their well-being and health. In addition, rapidly evolving technologies will increase their connectedness and autonomy.

As these new trends are established, medical express solutions for temperature-controlled, time-sensitive samples and medication will become the new norm and will continue to evolve. To stay ahead of the competition and to meet the current needs of LATAM’s at-risk population, industry stakeholders should review alternative and cost-effective logistics solutions.

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Published: April 2017

Image: DHL