Many Ghanaians near and far have in a way or the other fallen into the cruel hands of death for many reasons and Ghana’s poor health service delivery system is of no exception. The government, as a way of trying to improve upon the health care system in Ghana has initiated a fly-over medical delivery system through a collaboration with Zipline.
Zipline, a San Francisco-California based automated logistics and UAV manufacturing company, has come to the mercy of Ghanaians for delivery of medical supplies to areas which are not easily accessible by emergency services using drones.
The company in a project estimated at a cost of $12 million for the technology and a $17 per delivery contract with the Ghanaian government are to set-up four distribution centers – each center equipped with 30 drones – with a fast and reliable delivery network across over 2,000 medical health centers or facilities across the country and estimated to be beneficial to 12 million Ghanaians.
The minority in parliament subjected and opposed to the project for various reasons and paramount amongst them was the cost of the project, but the government kin on improving healthcare in the country through technology has gone on to kickstart the project. Other advocates have highlighted numerous benefits and importance of the service in saving lives.
Zipline CEO, Keller Rinaudo in a conversation with TechCrunch said “We’ll do 600 flights a day…and serve 12 million people. This is going to be the largest drone delivery network on the planet,” , and it happens to start in Ghana. The President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, in his statements said “No one in Ghana should die because they can’t access the medicine they need in an emergency…..That’s why Ghana is launching the world’s largest drone delivery service…a major step towards giving everyone in this country universal access to lifesaving medicine.”
One of the major gains of Zipline in Ghana is that it will help prevent vaccine, blood and lifesaving medications stockouts in health services in health facilities/centers as well as during national immunization exercises.
“The ability of the Government to supplement routine immunization on demand will allow us to make sure that there will always be enough life-saving vaccines for every child in Ghana,” said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. “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 added. Gavi is a foundation in support of Zipline services.
Zipline began in Rwanda in 2016 and has made more than 13,000 deliveries to date. Zipline drones now deliver more than 65% of Rwanda’s blood supply outside of the capital, Kigali.
The drone service will help hospitals receive medical packages between 15 to 17 minutes after making requests via WhatsApp or SMS.
After a request is made, the Zipline centre sends a message to the hospital staff to confirm the order. Another message is sent to the hospital as soon as the drone is launched and then the hospital is prompted again five minutes to delivery. The package is released from beneath the drone to a programmed drop zone at the hospital premises and health officials can pick the requested order to be administered to patients immediately and the aircraft continues its flight back to base.
Zipline’s primary base is the Omenako Centre which will serve the Eastern, Volta and parts of the Ashanti regions with 20 Ghanaian engineers and operators. After the official launch of the project, three other distribution centres will be completed within the year and equipped with 120 aircraft collectively to serve areas within a radius of 80km across the country to provide about 150 medical products to 2000 health facilities.
Zipline has been contracted to make 150 deliveries from each of the four bases daily but scalable to 500 deliveries from each base on a daily basis.
The Okyehene Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin II in his recent speech has described persons who work against the progress and prosperity of the country as witches and wizards.
Speaking at the launch of the Zipline medical drone centre at Omenako in the Eastern Region on Wednesday, 24 April 2019, Amoatia Ofori Panin II warned that not every Ghanaian will be happy with the introduction of the drones for medical supply.
Despite the talk surrounding the project as a results of certain clauses stated in the contract and other concerns raised by the leading opposition party, many Ghanaians have lauded the government on this initiative and also entreat the government to tackle other struggling aspects of the health service system, thus providing struggling hospitals with logistics, more infrastructure and medical supplies.