Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia on Wednesday launched Ghana’s largest drone delivery service at Omenako in the Eastern Region to improve healthcare delivery, especially in hard-to-reach areas.
The project, christened: “Fly to Save a life,” would use drones to operate 24 hours a day, throughout the week, from four distribution centres with each centre equipped with 30 drones to deliver essential medicines and blood products to 2,000 health facilities.
It is expected to serve 14 million people across the country, especially in the remote areas, to deliver on-demand and emergency deliveries of 148 different vaccines and life-saving medications.
All the four centres would make up to 600 on-demand delivery flights a day, with each centre having the capacity to fly 500 essential medical products per day.
The medical drone service would be provided by Zipline International, the San Francisco-based UAV manufacturer and logistics service provider. Vice President Bawumia, at the launch, said the drone medical delivery service represented a major step towards giving everyone in the country universal access to life-saving medicines, adding: “No one in Ghana should die because he or she could not access the medicine needed in an emergency situation”.
He said every single life in the country is precious and, thus, the Government was committed to providing access to quality healthcare for the mother, child, parent, and all citizens to ensure healthy living.
Dr Bawumia announced that in the next two years, all the teaching, regional and district hospitals would go paperless and electronically-connected to deliver quality healthcare to Ghanaians to enhance the efficiency of the public service.
He said government had procured 275 ambulances, which would arrive in Ghana by June or July, this year, to complement healthcare delivery, explaining that there could not be any sustainable development without good healthcare for the people.
The Vice President reiterated government’s commitment to ensuring inclusive development for all Ghanaians, irrespective of one’s political affiliation, saying; “One does not need to show his or her political ID card before extending medical services from the drone technology to you”.
Mr Keller Rinaudo, the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Zipline International, said millions of people across the world, both in developed and developing countries, died each year because they could not get the medicine they needed, hence the Company would build the first logistics system in the world to serve all people, equally.
He noted that access to vital health products, worldwide, was hampered by the last mile problem – the difficulty of supplying medicines from central storage to remotely located patients when and where they needed it.
Therefore, Zipline’s drone delivery service was dedicated to expanding healthcare access and saving lives around the globe, he said, adding that health workers just needed to place orders by sending a text message and they would receive deliveries within 30 minutes on average, he added.
Mr Rinaudo said the Company’s drone took-off from its distribution centre and landed without requiring additional infrastructure at the clinics and explained that the drone flew autonomously and could carry 1.8 kilos of cargo, cruising at 110 kilometres an hour with an all-weather round trip range of 160 kilometers.
He said Zipline’s service in Ghana would be the largest drone delivery network of any kind in history and expected to increase patients’ access, reduce waste and save lives.
The drones would make national scale on-demand deliveries of 12 routines and emergency vaccines as well as 148 blood products and essential medicines.
Osagyefo Amotia Ofori Panin, the Okyehene, called for committed health workers to ensure successful implementation of the project and, thus, urged all Ghanaians to embrace a change of technology to propel socio-economic development.