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International freight

Five basic modes of freight transportation – sea, rail, road, air and parcel post – are used, either individually or in combination, in international transportation. In general, rail, road, and air transport costs are comparatively higher than freight by sea, thus UNDP generally recommends sea transport. However, air freight has a shorter duration than sea and land freight, and should always be selected for health products that require “cold chain” conditions (categories [2-8°C] and below 0°C categories). For health products that do not require “cold chain” conditions, any mode of transport (air, sea, land) can be used. The most economical route should be selected based on when products are needed in-country.

During the procurement process, the proper transport conditions, for the products to be shipped, must be requested from the supplier and/or freight forwarder – this can be verified in the transport documents provided by the supplier or the freight company (i.e., airwaybill/bill-of-lading).

Distributors, wholesalers and any parties involved in the supply chain should comply with WHO Good Storage and Distribution practices (GSDP) and with Module 5 of WHO’s MQAS. Shipment containers and vehicles used for transportation should be secured. Transport conditions of medicines and other health products should ensure that their quality is preserved throughout the chain, in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

To support UNDP COs in monitoring the health procurement managed through the GHSC, the HPS team has developed an SOP for Shipment Tracking and Payment and will launch the Delivery Tracking Dashboard, shortly.

Use of dataloggers

Dataloggers are electronic devices that record temperature and/or humidity conditions and should be used in international shipments of health products, be it by air, sea or land. Therefore, UNDP COs should request inclusion of temperature dataloggers during the procurement process. Before placing/confirming a purchase order, UNDP CO needs to verify that dataloggers have been included in the supplier’s offer; if not, the CO should ask the supplier to include it and amend the offer, accordingly.

The UNDP HPS Team (HPS) has established multiple Long-Term Agreements (LTAs) for the supply of dataloggers to ensure adequate temperature monitoring of shipments, in-country distribution and storage. The LTAs and corresponding SOPs are available here.

Special Requirements for Narcotic and Psychotropic substances

When controlled products are requested, the recipient in the country should obtain an import authorization from the National Regulatory Authority (NRA). The import authorization should clearly indicate the name of the medicine (in INN), the concentration in active ingredients and the quantities of medicines requested.

The import authorization must be sent to the supplier (distributor or manufacturer) who will then request their local National Regulatory Authority to issue the export license (exactly the same product, concentrations and quantities).

  • Controlled products containing narcotic or psychotropic substances should be transported in secured containers and in accordance with the requirements established by the NRA.
  • In addition to the above, cartons must be palletized (whenever possible) and covered by a protective film.

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