The value contribution of sustainable development in the supply chain of the South African healthcare industry
The concept of sustainable development is not new to companies. However, the impact on the supply chain has only in the recent past been brought to the forefront of company reporting. This thesis examines the value that is brought to companies in the healthcare industry supply chain through environmental sustainable development efforts. Data was gathered in a qualitative method using semi-structured informal interviews. A range of companies/individuals that forms part of the supply chain formed the sample for the study and two groups of respondents were interviewed. Group 1 consisted of companies and group 2 consisted of doctors/patients. Value creation due to environmental sustainability efforts could not be conclusively proven. A general consensus from the respondents was an acknowledgement that companies and citizens must act in a responsible way towards environmental issues. However company business models for the creation of sustainable supply chains appeared highly subjective, unfocused and often unexpressed that might guide both employees and suppliers. Given this absence of clear guidelines, performance levels varied and no consistent approached could be discerned across the healthcare industry. Although international standards for reporting and performance measurements exist, most companies turn to the government for guidance and support. The apparent ‘low impact nature’ of the healthcare sector was a key consideration for efforts, or the lack thereof, with regards to environmental initiatives. A key finding was the perception shared by most respondents that focus for companies in the healthcare supply chain should be on the quality of product and patient care. These core business operations and efforts could not be sacrificed, or attention shifted away from them, even if a sustainable supply chain could make a difference of the firm’s overall environmental footprint.
Sustainability, Sustainable development, Supply chains, Healthcare