• The world’s largest drone delivery network has launched service in Ghana.
  • Zipline, a California-based automated logistics company, in partnership with the government on Ghana will use drones to make on-demand, emergency deliveries of 148 high priority products including emergency and routine vaccines, blood products and life-saving medications.
  • Dr Mahamudu Bawumia‏, Ghana's vice president, says with the first medical drone centre no single Ghanaian, irrespective of his or her remoteness, will die due to inaccessibility to emergency health care.

To solve logistic problems to rural communities, the world’s largest drone delivery network has launched service in Ghana with a capacity to dispense medicines and vaccines to millions of people even in the remotest corners.

Zipline, a California-based automated logistics company, in partnership with the government on Ghana will use drones to make on-demand, emergency deliveries of 148 high priority products including emergency and routine vaccines, blood products and life-saving medications.

The service is supported by Gavi and the UPS Foundation and joined this time by the Gates Foundation and Pfizer.

Testing activities at Ghana's first medical drone delivery centre at Omenako in the  Eastern Region. (Twitter/@MBawumia)
Testing activities at Ghana's first medical drone delivery centre at Omenako in the Eastern Region. (Twitter/@MBawumia)
Twitter/@MBawumia

Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, said, “The ability of the Government to supplement routine immunisation on demand will allow us to make sure that there will always be enough life-saving vaccines for every child in Ghana.”

“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.

Ghana's first medical drone delivery centre at Omenako (Twitter/ ‏@MBawumia)
Ghana's first medical drone delivery centre at Omenako (Twitter/ ‏@MBawumia)
Twitter/@MBawumia

How it will work?

According to a statement by the UPS, the Zipline drone network will be integrated into the national healthcare supply chain in Ghana and will help prevent vaccine stockouts in health facilities as well as during national immunisation campaigns.

The service will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from four distribution centres—each equipped with 30 drones—and deliver to over 2,000 health facilities serving 12 million people across the country.

“... We're expanding to provide most of the country's population with access to any medical products they need, with four distribution centres spanning from the dense southern regions surrounding Ghana's capital, Accra, to the remote and arid north of the country,” Zipline said in a statement on its website.

Officials at the Ghana's first medical drone delivery centre at Omenako in the Eastern Region during commissioning (Twitter/ ‏@MBawumia)
Officials at the Ghana's first medical drone delivery centre at Omenako in the Eastern Region during commissioning (Twitter/ ‏@MBawumia)
Twitter/@MBawumia

The cost for the Ghanaian government

The service is estimated to cost the Ghana government a little under £10 million ($12.91 million) over the next four years which is less expensive to the ineffective existing delivery systems.

Dr Mahamudu Bawumia‏ , Ghana's vice president during the commissioning of the first medical drone centre, said, “Not a single Ghanaian, irrespective of his or her remoteness, deserves to die due to inaccessibility to emergency health care.

Zipline is capitalising on its success story in Rwanda, the east African nation, saving lives every day with its drone services but many still believe communication will be a bottleneck in the remotest areas in Ghana.