On the 23rd of April, Zipline made it’s first delivery to a hospital in Ghana, this marks the beginning of operations in the country by California based company founded by Rwandan Abdoul Salam Nizeyimana.
Since it’s inception in 2016, Zipline has made over 13,000 deliveries of blood products in Rwanda – a third of them attributing to emergency life saving situations. The company opened its first distribution center in a town located around the Southern province of Rwanda, called Muhanga approximately 45 km from Kigali the country’s capital.
Zipline’s new operation in Ghana is supported by non-profits, GAVI and Bill & Melinda Gates foundation, as well as companies like UPS and Pfizer. Each delivery is initiated when medics place an order by text message, drones will then fly from one of four distribution centers, hover over its destination, and deliver the package with a small parachute.
“The idea is that these four distribution centers can make up to 600 on-demand delivery flights a day. And that can expand up to 2,000 [a day] over time.” said GAVI chief executive Seth Berkley.
“The aim is for deliveries to arrive within 30 minutes”, Berkley added, this could mean greater chances for patients with venomous stings & bites.
This project is set to deliver to around 2,000 medical facilities, helping over 12 million people in Ghana. 12 routine and emergency vaccines will be available, including shots for yellow fever, polio, measles, meningitis and tetanus, as well as 148 blood products and other critical medicines. The drones fly autonomously and can carry up to 1.8 kilograms of cargo, GAVI said.
There were reports last year of an agreement signed for a Zipline launch in Lagos State to improve the country’s medical supply chain, but there are yet to be any follow ups on that, and the governmental transition may not serve to speed up that process.