Ghana has become the latest African country to start using drones to deliver vital blood products to remote areas of the country. The program for drone delivery of medical supplies was launched this week by Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, Ghana’s Vice President. Dr. Bawumia commissioned the country’s first medical drone delivery centre at Omenako in the eastern region. The centre is the first of four to be set up across the country.
The country has partnered with Zipline, a San Francisco-based UAV manufacturer and logistics services provider on the initiative.
Working with the Ghanaian government, Zipline will operate 30 drones out of four distribution centers to distribute vaccines, blood and life-saving medications to 2,000 health facilities across the country. Zipline drones will also serve 12 million people.
The initiative will help Ghana leapfrog infrastructural challenges affecting the delivery of healthcare solutions in parts of the country.
Dr. Bawumia said the centre at Omenako, which is 100 percent operated by Ghanaians will provide a response to medical emergencies, especially in hard to reach areas, through the flying of unmanned drones to supply 12 routine and emergency services as well as 148 lifesaving medical products.
This morning, I commissioned Ghana's first medical drone delivery centre at Omenako in the Eastern Region. 1/4 pic.twitter.com/N3dJhLasCb
— Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia (@MBawumia) April 24, 2019
“Not a single Ghanaian, irrespective of his or her remoteness, deserves to die due to inaccessibility to emergency health care,” Dr. Bawumia wrote on Twitter.
“The ability of the Government to supplement routine immunization on demand will allow us to make sure that there will always be enough life-saving vaccines for every child in Ghana,” said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. “This is an exciting development for Gavi that is ultimately going to ensure we leave no one behind and help us protect more children living in remote areas against vaccine preventable diseases,” he added.
The technology milestone is being celebrated and applauded on social as a major achievement which will save lives, and there’s hope that the initiative could spur the development of similar projects in the delivery of medical supplies in remote parts of Africa.
The Ghana program is Zipline second operation after first launching in Rwanda. Other African countries have started embracing drone technology to address various needs. Malawi has been working with Unicef on a project to explore the use of drones (which carry the blood samples from health centres to laboratories) to speed-up HIV testing and diagnosis in infants.
Today, led by the government of Ghana, @gavi, @UPS, and @zipline expanded the just-in-time #drone delivery network of essential vaccines and vital medicines to millions of #Ghana citizens. #WorldImmunizationWeekhttps://t.co/pq8HhwAZjC pic.twitter.com/Y2dqzJ9bIr
— The UPS Foundation (@UPS_Foundation) April 24, 2019