Supplying lifesaving blood to disaster-hit areas

Dr Xiang Song of the Department of Mathematics at the University of Portsmouth has gained a prestigious Royal Society International Exchanges grant to work with Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China, on “Resilient blood supply chain system design for disaster relief”.

When natural disasters hit, the number and severity of human casualties leaves governments and aid organisations facing considerable challenges, including the supply of blood for transfusion to the injured. The unpredictable nature of disasters leads to sudden and sporadic demands for blood, a precious resource that needs to be stored carefully, transported efficiently, and utilised rapidly before it perishes. Efficient, resilient, and sustainable, networks of supply chains for blood are therefore essential.  This international collaboration will address the issues of planning, deploying, and maintaining these vital supply chains.

Data has been collected by PhD students in Shanghai Jiaotong University from the Blood Centre in Chengdu, including the demand for blood in different periods, and from the Department of Civil Affairs of Sichuan Province, including the tents, clothes, and money donated by people from unaffected areas. After the first visit to Shanghai Jiaotong University in April, a technique called Discrete-Time Mixed Integer Linear Programming (MILP) has been discussed that would incorporate the underlying uncertainty in blood supply in disaster relief scenarios. A future plan for a PhD exchange has been arranged and PhD student Xilin Zhang will study at the University of Portsmouth in March 2019 for three to six months as part of the project.

Dr Xiang Song is a member of the Logistics, Operational Research, and Analytics Group (LORA) in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Portsmouth.  Members of the group work on the “Science of Better”, solving challenges that governments and organisations face to make their activities more effective, more efficient, and more sustainable.


Department of Mathematics

Logistics, Operational Research, and Analytics Group (LORA)

University of Portsmouth

The Royal Society

The Operational Research Society



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