According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), nearly two billion people across the world lack reliable access to quality essential medical products such as blood and vaccines due to gaps in supply chains and poor infrastructure.
A functioning supply chain complete with procurement, appropriate warehousing, and end-to-end transportation, is critical to making sure that people have access to essential, quality medicine. Increasingly, drones or “unmanned aerial vehicles” (UAV) are being used to fill in key supply chain gaps, providing much-needed access to access to medicine, medical supplies and vaccines.
By storing medicine, blood and other critical medical supplies and delivering them directly to health facilities, Zipline is helping the government of Ghana reduces wasted medication resulting from overstocking and expiration. Because health facilities can order on-demand, as needed, they no longer have to request large quantities of medicine from their national medical stores to make sure they have them in stock, ultimately resulting in over-ordering and expiration.
A District Director of Health in Ghana, Charles Kofi Azagba, recently said that “before the introduction of Zipline, [they] have been going through a lot of difficulties in getting medical and non-medical supplies to the various health facilities. However, with the coming of Zipline, [they] rarely run out of stock or even when [they] do, Zipline swiftly responds to them in less than 30-minutes”.
Recently Nigeria became the third African country to use Zipline’s drone delivery system, following national-scale operations in Ghana and Rwanda, with operations in Kenya and Cote d’Ivoire set to be launched later this year. Kaduna State, Nigeria has begun to procure medical commodities – vaccines, medicines, and blood – through the government supply chain and distribute them via the newly established Zipline distribution centre located at Pambegua. With Zipline’s autonomous drone delivery service, health facilities can receive products within 45 minutes or less, rather than several days when using traditional, complex procurement systems.
Nigeria and other developing countries often lack adequate supply, correct doses and affordable medication at their health centres. In some cases, health ministries set up semi-autonomous entities such as a National Level Medical Store and Regional Medical Stores, to purchase, store and distribute medicine and medical supplies to health centres, hospitals and dispensaries across the country.
Within the rural settings already burdened with poverty, high disease, and lack of adequate resources to deliver quality healthcare to the population, drug shortages and an inadequate number and skill-mix of healthcare providers are very common in rural health facilities.
Zipline’s technology has proved to be a valuable tool in assisting governments in achieving access to universal healthcare and will help the government of Kaduna in achieving this goal. A Zipline hub can send medical supplies to more than 500 health facilities within an 80km radius flying at about 110km/hour. Within the first week of operation in Kaduna state, the company delivered over a thousand medical items to several health facilities.
Kaduna is just the beginning of the government’s partnership with Zipline. They have already announced partnerships with the Cross River and Bayelsa states, with an aim to begin operations before the end of 2022, serving thousands of health facilities across Nigeria.