Fri, 14/09/2018 - 05:05
Bahrain’s Medical Guardian
Bahrain Pharmacy has diversified into a key national healthcare provider and supplier, working with some of the world’s most renowned brands to deliver services for local communities
Writer: Tom Wadlow
Project Manager: Callam Waller
The human and material sacrifice sustained during the Second World War resulted in enormous shortfalls in countries all around the world. The impact of sustaining huge supply lines spanning thousands of kilometres, from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean to the Pacific and beyond, took its toll.
In the Middle East, Bahrain pledged its support to the Allied war effort. Considered strategically important to Britain by the Italian air force, it felt the impact of bombing raids in 1940 and, like many nations, suffered shortages in supplies in the conflict’s aftermath.
This inspired Ali Ahmed Alawadhi to establish the Bahrain Pharmacy & General Store in 1945. Providing the population with vital medical goods, within 18 months he was able to expand the business into a specialist pharmaceutical supplier.
Fast-forward to the present day and Alawadhi’s sons, Dr. Abdulhay Ali Ahmed Alawadhi (MD) and Dr. Abdulmajeed Ali Ahmed Alawadhi (CEO) leading the business, now Bahrain Pharmacy, from strength to strength.
“My father, along with his uncle, became one of the pioneers of the pharmaceutical industry in Bahrain,” the CEO says. “He remained chairman of the Company until just two and a half years ago when he passed away.”
Built on values
For almost 75 years Bahrain Pharmacy has operated with dedication to preserve its longstanding ideal of its owners – the grace of prevention and treatment.
This has been achieved by stringent adherence to core company values, which revolve around trust, ethics and quality, especially when it comes to selection of suppliers and pharmaceutical companies to work with.
“Health and wellness are also a big part of our philosophy,” Alawadhi says. “We believe in the saying that ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’.
“To this end we have identified the top wellness companies in the world and we represent their products here in Bahrain. These include medicines, medical devices, capital equipment, vitamins and health foods, supplements, personal care and aids.”
These values underpin the Company’s vision and mission, which is to lead in health and pharmaceutical care and provide the best products, continuously improve service and build lasting customer relationships.
A key differentiator for Bahrain Pharmacy lies in its expansive portfolio of offerings. Beyond the 12 pharmacy outlets it operates across the country, the firm distributes pharmaceutical products from some of the world’s best recognised manufacturers to government and private sector clients.
Such brands include Sanofi, Pfizer, Abbott, Novartis, Kuwait Saudi Pharmaceuticals (Kuwait), National Pharmaceutical (Oman), Nestlé Health Science, and MEDA (Mylan). In the consumer division, Bahrain Pharmacy distributes leading products from the likes of OKF, Actavis, Otsuka, Wyeth Nutrition (Nestlé), Dental Pro and Aloe Dent, among many others.
“We are maintaining top positions across all three sectors of distribution, consumer and equipment supply,” Alawadhi adds. “We are the largest retail chain and one of the largest distributors of medical products in Bahrain.
“We adopt an active approach to increasing our range with new brands and new products from brands we already have. We are very picky in choosing partners and have our own policies and standards that must be met.”
Perhaps an even greater differentiator is Bahrain Pharmacy’s medical equipment distribution arm, a part of the business which has taken off since 2014, backed up with highly professional and motivated staff built on establishing fruitful relationships with renowned medical equipment agencies.
So far the medical devices division has installed equipment and supplied consumables to more than 30 centres and hospitals across Bahrain, from X-ray machines and hospital furniture to ultra sound and lab simulators.
“Expanding this division has complemented our core business,” Alawadhi says. “Some of the medical devices division suppliers now include Smith & Nephew, Carestream, Mindray, Medtronic, Bard and others.”
In with the new
Continual investment in new facilities has also allowed Bahrain Pharmacy to retain its position as an industry leader.
This is no better demonstrated than by the Company’s investment in a majority share of the state-of-the-art Al Salam Hospital, Bahrain’s largest private hospital which opened its doors in December 2017.
“This is an important part of chairman’s vision to diversify,” says Alawadhi. “He wanted to invest in a hospital so we can better serve the community, and this is why we began entering discussions with Al Salam in 2015.”
Al Salam is a 100-bed hospital, making it 50 percent larger than the previous largest establishment in the country. It is also still in development, with new equipment and services being invested in to continually improve its offering.
Further, two of the Company’s 12 pharmacies are newly opened, establishing it in new areas and helping develop a deeper connection with local communities. These are ultramodern sites fitted out with everything a customer requires – all Bahrain Pharmacy outlets are of a minimum standard size to ensure a one-stop-shop service.
Beyond the bricks and mortar, the firm is also continually looking into new products, ensuring it remains one step ahead of its competition. Market research forms a crucial part of this, with factors such as quality and the needs of the local community at the forefront of decision making.
Investment behind the scenes
Consumer and client access to such products relies on a robust and efficient supply chain operation.
Bahrain Pharmacy’s backstage activities are powered by a centralised warehouse which handles its inventory, a facility which has been recently upgraded to meet European standards in areas such as temperature control with the help of French pharma giant Sanofi.
Installed with Dickson’s monitoring systems, data is automatically collected, allowing real-time inventory storage management across Bahrain Pharmacy branches and 24/7 monitoring of temperature-controlled spaces. From here, the Company’s own transport fleet distributes to its network of pharmacies and client medical centres and hospitals.
Driving this operation, and all areas of the business, is a team of extremely well-qualified employees, something which Alawadhi believes is crucial to the lasting success of Bahrain Pharmacy.
“Our employment policy is all about investing in and recruiting highly skilled staff,” he explains. “We do not compromise on this – the merit, skill and training experience are hugely important to us when considering who we hire.
“This is a major reason why the Company is recording tremendous growth and is helping us to stand apart in the industry.”
And it is this team of people, from pharmacists and researchers to warehouse operators and management, that will ensure Bahrain Pharmacy fulfils its bold vision and mission statements. Over the next five years, the Company is aiming to double in size.
Alawadhi concludes: “Every day is a challenge and every challenge is an opportunity – we are up for it.”