Robotics and drone company, Zipline is set to launch a drone medical delivery service in Ghana today. This is following successful test-flying of their drones over the past one year.
The launch is expected to take place at Zipline’s first distribution center in Omenako, a town in the Suhum municipality of the Eastern Region in Ghana.
This is the startup’s second venture in Africa after launching in Rwanda in 2016. And this new service is as a result of a 12.5 million dollar contract between the Ghanaian health ministry and the Silicon Valley based startup. The service is expected to serve over 2,000 clinics in remote parts of Ghana delivering about 150 vaccines as well as blood.
This projected it touted to be the world’s largest drone delivery network and is projected to serve over 12 million Ghanaians.
The vaccines Zipline will deliver includes those for yellow fever, polio, diptheria and tetanus, which are to be provided by the World Health Organisation (WHO) through its Project on Immunisation.
Also for this project Zipline partners with the big guns like Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the UPS Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Novartis and Pfizer.
Zipline’s drones will have a round-trip range of 160km, travelling at 110km an hour. Health workers can request a blood/vaccine drop via text message and expect it to arrive about 30 minutes later. That makes a huge difference in the health sector of the country as aid would be able to reach rural areas in no time.
“What this is going to show is that you can reach every GPS co-ordinate, you can serve everybody. Every human in that region or country [can be] within a 15-25 minute delivery of any essential medical product — it’s a different way of thinking about universal coverage.”Keller Rinaudo, Chief Executive Officer Zipline.
Zipline reportedly has plans to start operations in North Carolina, and in south-east Asia later this year. Here the company said it will be able to serve 100m people within a year which is about 500% increase from the 22m people it projects to serve in Ghana and Rwanda.
Also, a Nigeria launch might also be in the pipes. In July 2018, Zipline signed an agreement with the Lagos State Government to offer a drone-enabled supply chain solution in the state’s health sector. However, with the impending change in leadership, it isn’t exactly clear how this will eventually pan out.
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