Rwanda and Ghana use drones to deliver medicines to remote areas

Unmanned air vehicles, popularly known as drones, have been a great triumph to security and entertainment companies, due to their versatility, as they can film movies where it would be impossible for a person to do the same. However, the possibilities of drone services have increased a great deal in Africa. In some countries, they are being used to save lives by delivering medications to remote and hard-to-reach areas.

Zipline drone being used in Rwanda (Photo: Zipline)

The expansion of the use of drones for this purpose started in Rwanda in 2016. As the country is mainly rural and there are many challenges to reach remote areas, the government entered a partnership with Zipline, a North-American company, for using drones to deliver medications, vaccines, and even blood for transfusions.

The company’s drones take off from distribution centers and can deliver to health clinics located within a range of 75km. When they arrive at their destination, the vehicles drop the medication load, equipped with a small parachute. Since then, Zipline has been able to make over 10,000 deliveries in Rwanda.

The government of Ghana has hitched a ride and followed on to achieve the same success as Ruanda and also signed a partnership with Zipline. The company plans to carry out 600 daily flights in this country, delivering medications, vaccines, and blood.  Twelve million people have already been benefited in the very beginning. According to the company, this is the largest drone delivery service in the world.

Nana Akufo- Addo, the President of the country, stated, at the time the partnership was made official, on April 24th, that no inhabitant in Ghana would die due to impossible access to medications needed for emergencies. “[This service] represents a major step towards giving everyone in this country universal access to life-saving medicine,” he confirmed. Through this partnership, the Guanines government assigned US$12 million dollars to Zipline to put this project into effect in the next four years.

According to Zipline, the service will operate four distribution centers nonstop, serving 2,000 health clinics in the country. It is only necessary to send a text message to request service. The medications will arrive at their destination in less than half an hour.

According to Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the government will get the capacity to supplement the necessity for vaccination through an on-demand service that will always supply vaccinations to the population of 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 concluded.

Read also “The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Flying Drones“, written by Jenny Brown from