May 22, 2019


Zipline to begin medical drone service in April – Bawumia

Zipline to begin medical drone service in April – Bawumia The Vice President, Nana Akufo- Addo earlier raised concerns about the stalled contract

Vice-President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia has said that medical supplies via drone delivery will begin in April 2019.

Government in 2018  approved the operationalization of Zipline’s drone technology to deliver drugs and blood to rural areas in the country amidst protest from Members of Parliament on the Minority side.

Speaking at the 5th Biennial Scientific Conference of the African Health Economic and Policy Association (AfHEA) held in Accra, Dr. Bawumia said the drone delivery service is a cost-effective approach of providing quality health care.

“Next month, Ghana will begin the introduction of drone technology in the delivery of medical supplies. We are taking a lead from Rwanda who pioneered this in Africa. Once we start our drone delivery service will be the largest in Africa.  We are also innovating means of healthcare delivery to reduce cost and be as efficient as possible. We are trying to rely on technology to help us be more efficient and also be cost-effective.”

The Conference, which was organized by the Africa Health Economics Association (AfHEA), is under the auspices of the Ministry of Health with partnerships from the Ghana Health Service (GHS) and the School of Public Health of the University of Ghana, Legon, and has top health policy makers, academics and economists in attendance.

AfHEA is an international health economics and policy organization dedicated to the promotion and strengthening of the use of health economics and health policy analysis in achieving equitable and efficient health systems and improved health outcomes in Africa, especially the most vulnerable populations. It has supported health policy development in many countries on the continent.

This year’s conference is on the theme, “Securing Primary Health Care (PHC) for all: the foundation for making progress on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Africa,” and has over 300 local and foreign participants from about 40 countries.

It’s Executive Director, Dr Chris Atim, was happy about the contributions of the organization to the global effort on health policy and health financing as the organization marks its 10th anniversary.

He underscored the strides made by many African countries in their quest to provide Universal Health Coverage for their pupils through the adoption of the national health insurance pathway, but stressed the need for more commitment from governments across the continent to ensure UHC.

Test run

Already, Zipline – the world’s first national-scale drone delivery service, has organised the initial testing and diagnostic flights from its first distribution center in Omenako, a town in the Suhum municipality.

The revolutionary new service will use drones to make on-demand, emergency deliveries of life-saving medications to over 2,000 health facilities across the country.

The Ministry of Health and Zipline have also briefed the public on the safety and security features of the company’s drone delivery service.

Drones for medical supplies necessary; don’t politicize it’ – GHS Boss

The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has described the drone delivery of medical supplies as the most efficient and cost-effective means of reaching under-served areas in the country.

According to the Director General of the Ghana Health Service, Dr. Anthony Nsiah-Asare, the use of drone technology to deliver emergency services fits perfectly into government’s plan of achieving access to Universal healthcare in the country.

Dr. Nsiah-Asare explained that the drones to be procured by Government at a cost of $12m will make Ghana the most “advanced healthcare supply chain in the world.”

Dr Anthony Nsiah- Asare explained it is unfortunate that a critical matter of health is being politicized.

“I am surprised yesterday, I was watching the news and I wanted to call the Chairman of the parliamentary select committee on health. Health, so far as some of us are concerned, is not politics. You can sit here and politicise health, but when you are sick you don’t show your party colors. It is when you are in the village and you are bitten by a snake and then you will see what we are talking about. The drone is going to be 24 hours, that is day and night. it is going to be a 24-hour service, when you do only day and there is an emergency at night, what are you going to do ? “

About Ghana’s Medical Drone Delivery Service

The service will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

GHS has selected 148 lifesaving medical products to be stocked at Zipline’s four distribution centers nationwide.

Zipline will guarantee delivery of those products upon request to any of the thousands of health facilities served.

Each of the four distribution centers will be staffed by a team of 35 Ghanaian engineers and logistics personnel, equipped with at least 20 drones.

Together, all four distribution centers will be capable of making at least 600 on-demand delivery flights a day. The drones can carry 1.75 kilos of cargo, cruising at 110 kilometers an hour, and have an all-weather round trip range of 160 kilometers.

The Minority in Parliament has, however, rejected the services agreement between Government and Zipline, the company contracted to procure the drones describing it as a misplaced priority.

By: Nii Larte Lartey & Bervelyn Longdon | |Ghana

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