Carramore International Limited
Carramore International Limited

WHO dry ice specimens Navrongo to the HPA UK

The World Health Organisation, WHO, approached us for help in shipping specimens in dry ice from the Navrongo Health Research Centre, in Northern Ghana, to the Health Protection Agency in the UK.

The Centre is situated 500 miles (800km) from Accra where dry ice was only sporadically available; and all packaging materials had to be supplied from the UK. The WHO had been trying for over a year to effect this shipment before contacting Carramore. Their brief was that we had to ensure the safe and timely delivery of these specimens, without compromising the cold chain, and to contain the costs within reason.

Our first task was to determine whether the logistics were feasible. Through checking the possible routings and timings we were able to verify, although the deadlines were tight, that it was possible. The next step was to ensure that our in-country partner, MES Equipment located in Accra, was clear on the requirement:

·       to quickly clear the arriving packaging material at Accra

·       to effect speedy inward customs clearance

·       to arrange for the quickest internal connecting flight to the consigning lab in Navrongo

·       to advise of any cargo limitations on internal flights (size, weight, restrictions etc.)

·       to ensure sufficient dry ice to cover outward and return internal flights

·       to co-ordinate with the Centre on timings

·       to refresh the dry ice once the returning flight arrived back in Accra

·       to ensure immediate transfer to the London bound flight

Once we were satisfied that all was in place we prepared a consignment, in the UK, of 2 thermal boxes. In these we packed the appropriate secondary tins for infectious substances, as well as regular product for Accra customers. This avoided the high cost of shipping empty and voluminous packaging, as we were able to spread the costs. We also included all the relevant labels and documentation required for the entire journey there and back.

The consignment was trucked from Holmfirth to Manchester airport: then to London, flown to Accra, custom cleared, boxes packed with dry ice, airfreighted to Navrongo, specimens packed and returned to Accra on the next flight, dry ice refreshed and airfreighted to London overnight. The two thermal boxes were then custom cleared and delivered by special courier to a UK Health Protection Agency site. The goods arrived in a frozen condition and the entire journey took 7 days there and back.

It is important to reflect that the success of the operation was due, not only to our knowledge of procedures and logistics, but also ensuring an effective partnership between all parties concerned, thus avoiding exposure to any weak links in the chain. These strong and effective partnerships have been built up through our many years’ experience in supplying goods and services to countries such as Ghana.