Ghana: vaccines, drugs and blood delivered by drones

April 2019 Health Innovation Eline Feenstra
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Hundreds of drones will be used to deliver life-saving vaccines, drugs and blood to multiple places in Ghana. This large project was recently announced by the global vaccine alliance GAVI.1

The robotics company Zipline, based in California, has started a new project to transfer health supplements via drones. When vaccines, blood or medication are running out, doctors can order new supplies by sending a text message. After receiving the order, drones will fly to the place of interest and drop the deliveries using parachutes.

Fast delivery

Currently, four distribution centres are available. The idea is that these four centres are able to send about 600 delivery flights a day. Over time, this number can expand up to 2000 flights. The aim is to deliver the supplements as soon as possible, within 30 minutes. This allows fast arrival of emergency treatments, such as anti-snake venom or rabies shots.

Emergency vaccines

Up to 12 emergency routine vaccines will be available, such as shots for yellow fever, measles, meningitis, polio and tetanus. Furthermore, there will be a large supply of other critical drugs and blood. One drone can carry up to 1.8 kg of supplies.

A similar but smaller project in Rwanda (2016) saved many lives. The project had made more than 13,000 deliveries.2