Africa’s weak public health infrastructure and tropical climate make its battle against exotic and infectious diseases difficult and logistically complex.

Last year, Agility Defense & Government Services (DGS) was approached by the MRC, a UK-based funding agency dedicated to improving human health by supporting research across the entire spectrum of medical sciences in the UK and Africa. The MRC asked Agility to transport urgent medical supplies and equipment to Gambia quickly so that the valuable cargo reached its destination in time to ensure there were adequate stocks of critical supplies needed for clinical and research centers.

Moving sensitive cargo to West Africa presented a challenge because Agility’s scope of work included the shipment of biological samples, perishables, medical and scientific equipment and non-life sciences products such as vehicles, spare parts, IT equipment and consumables from UK.

Agility’s team in the UK moved quickly to arrange for the cargo to be screened and to prepare airway bills for a flight departing from London’s Heathrow Airport. The supplies failed to arrive at Heathrow in time. When all the goods finally made it, the team raced to consolidate the shipment, get the load re-screened, prepare new airway bills and documentation to secure space on a connecting flight to Brussels. There, the load was transferred to a flight bound for Banjul, Gambia. The materials made it to a clinic and research centers in Gambia on time and in good condition. Agility staff worked closely with the Medical Research Council staff, suppliers and Gambian import agents to ensure time in transit was kept to a minimum.

In a letter to a colleague in the UK, the MRC director in Gambia wrote, “Say thanks to the Agility team, it is nice to know that there is professional team caring for us on the other side. Let them know that we consider them part of our team, too.”


The MRC unit in Gambia is the UK’s single largest investment in medical research in a developing country and is internationally recognized for its track record of research into infectious tropical diseases. Its success is based on innovative lab-based research, excellent clinical studies and field-oriented science, and the translation of research into clinical and public health practice. The unit’s vision is to lead scientific research to save lives and improve health across the developing world.