Ghana’s drone service which launched in April, makes on-demand emergency deliveries of 148 different vaccines, blood products and lifesaving medications to health facilities in the country, 24 hours daily.
The first hospital to use the service was New Tafo, a government hospital about two hours north of the Ghanaian capital, Accra. The service was brought to Ghana by Silicon Valley Company Zipline.
Medical superintendent Kobena Wriedu said the hospital had received at least 25 drone deliveries in the past month, with a handful coming in emergency situations much quicker than road transport.
By the end of the year, an additional three centres are set to be opened across Ghana. Combined, they will provide deliveries to 2,000 health facilities serving 12 million people, making up to 600 delivery flights a day on behalf of the Ghanaian government, under a contract worth $12.5 million over four years.
The Centre in Omenako where the drones come from has a cold storage facility for the blood and medicines to be stored. Workers watch the screens as orders come through and quickly fill the orders and assemble and launch the drones. They get the orders from health care workers by text message.
Ghana’s services are still in the early stages, with only four health facilities using it so far. The Omenako Centre’s fulfilment operations coordinator, Samuel Akuffo, said the service would prove its worth as Ghana starts to see heavy rain for the rainy season. The drones can fly in all weather conditions, and over roads that vehicles might not be able to pass in heavy rain.
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