A national-scale drone delivery service, Zipline, says it has begun the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to selected health facilities within its service areas in Ghana.
Zipline’s co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Keller Rinaudo, said the Ghanaian Government would use its network to deliver COVID-19 vaccines to ensure rapid, equitable access across the country.
“Nearly half of Ghana’s population lives outside of cities and those 12 million people are difficult to reach with time-limited, cold chain-dependent vaccines. Zipline’s network provides Ghana with a resilient, efficient and equitable distribution strategy”, Rinaudo said in a statement on Wednesday.
The statement further read: “We are proud to be part of this significant milestone in Ghana where our drone logistics network is able to provide on-demand, last-mile delivery of COVID-19 vaccine at scale across the country. Not only does this make Ghana the world’s first country to deploy drones on a national scale for the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, but is also a giant effort in ensuring equitable access and enabling Ghana to fully utilise its healthcare infrastructure to deliver vaccines.”
Daniel Marfo, Senior Vice President, Zipline Africa, described the development as “exciting time for Africa”, adding; “we are leading the way in using revolutionary drone technology to provide on-demand delivery of medical supplies and vaccines to our people who need them the most.
For many countries, nationwide, equitable distribution — especially to remote and hard-to-reach regions, is a daunting challenge. But in Ghana, the established health infrastructure and Zipline’s existing network, makes it possible to deliver to those regions quickly and safely.”
General Manager, Zipline in Ghana, Naa Adorkor Yawson, is elated the organisation was honored to partner with its key partners- Ministry of Health, Ghana Civil Aviation Authority, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and the UPS Foundation. “With this intervention, we believe Ghana will be in a position to distribute the vaccine as quickly and equitably as possible”, Yawson said.
Ghana received the first batch of vaccines delivered by the COVAX facility, in its bid to supply at least two billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines to low- and middle-income countries by the end of 2021.
The vaccines are transferred to the Zipline distribution centre by UPS, which is also providing in-country ground delivery support to the government’s regional cold stores.
In April 2020, Zipline began delivering COVID-19 test samples to Accra and Kumasi,making history as the first time autonomous drones were used for regular long-range deliveries into densely populated urban areas. Reports said it was also the first time that drones had been used in this way to deliver COVID-19 test samples.
Recently, reports also indicated that Zipline had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Kaduna State Government on drone delivery of medical aids – comprising vaccines, blood and other life-saving products.
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