The Ministry of Health has signed a Letter of Intent with US-based company, Zipline International Inc. to offer drone-enabled supply chain solution in Ghana for the secure, reliable and timely deliveries of essential health care products to hospitals and other health facilities.
The Ministry says it will leverage technology to improve the supply chain of critical medical supplies, reduce waste and save lives.
Dep. Health Minister, Tina Mensah and Keller Rinaudo, CEO of ZiplineA Deputy Minister of Health, Tina Mensah, signed on behalf of Ghana, while Keller Rinaudo, CEO of Zipline, signed for his company in Accra on Monday 23rd April, 2018.
The Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, who has championed government’s effort to ensure the use of innovation and technology in public service delivery was present at the ceremony.
Zipline was among the many companies with cutting-edge technology who met and held discussions with the Vice President and the founders and leaders of a number of Ghanaian ICT firms a few weeks ago, during Dr. Bawumia’s working visit to Silicon Valley, California, USA.
A number of companies based in the ICT hub of Silicon Valley have also indicated their readiness to explore partnership opportunities with their Ghanaian counterparts after the trip to design and implement Ghanaian solutions for Ghanaian challenges.
Ghana will become the first country in West Africa to use the technology after previous ones operated by Zipline in countries such as Rwanda, Tanzania and Malawi.
According to officials at the Health Ministry, the system to be developed in Ghana will be the largest in the world.
It said the system can also be employed to deliver other items such as urgent letters, examination papers and election materials such as ballot papers, officials maintain.
Addressing the media after the brief signing ceremony, which was witnessed by officials from the National Blood Bank, Ghana Post and Ghana Civil Aviation Authority, Tina Mensah, extolled the virtues of such a system for efficient health care delivery.
“Very soon, we will be seeing some drones flying to hitherto hard to reach areas of this country and thereby we will be saving lives. It will have so many uses. For example, when there is an accident somewhere, instead of transporting essential healthcare products by vehicle which would take a lot more time, the drones can just deliver within the shortest possible time, so lives could be saved.”
The Director General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr. Anthony Nsiah Asare, recounted how the technology has helped in the healthcare delivery systems in Rwanda to the admiration of the global medical field, and was optimistic its introduction in Ghana will improve the performance of the GHS.
He called for speedy implementation of the technology for efficient healthcare delivery.
Meanwhile, the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority has pledged to create an air corridor for drones to prevent collisions with aircrafts.
It is unclear if the letter of intent is legally binding or whether a subsequent agreement will be signed actualize the plan.