Drones will deliver vaccines and other medicines to about 2,000 health centers in rural areas that normally experience limited access.
Ghana is set to launch the largest drone medical delivery service in the world through the 'Fly-To-Save-A-Life Project' which is estimated to benefit some twelve million people.
Each day, drones will deliver vaccines and other medicines to about 2,000 health centers in rural areas that normally experience limited access to such products.
California-based robotics company Zipline is responsible for designing the four hubs from which the drone service will operate. Each hub will host 30 drones that will, collectively, make up to 600 flights daily.
The service “represents a major step towards giving everyone in this country universal access to life-saving medicine,” President Nana Akufo-Addo said at the inauguration ceremony of the drone network in Omenako. The head of state added that “no one in Ghana should die because they can’t access the medicine they need in an emergency.
The Omenako Service Center will provide medical supplies to facilities in the eastern region of Ghana, as well as some surrounding areas. Other centers are expected to be completed this year and will cover most of the remaining areas in the country.
Ghana has launched the world's largest medical drone delivery service, which will serve 12 million people, and deliver vaccines and blood to 2,000 health centres in rural areas. pic.twitter.com/3UCQ7fBg4S— Africa Facts Zone (@AfricaFactsZone) April 25, 2019
The service initially received mixed responses, with critics saying the money should be spent elsewhere.
The country, which has a population of 29 million people, only has 55 ambulances.
The 'Fly-To-Save-A-Life Project' was also questioned by the Ghana Medical Association, who called for its suspension, prior to undergoing a trial run, claiming that it would not solve the country's many health service issues.
Regardless of the surrounding wariness, Ghana's government moved forward with the project and granted Zipline $12 million to operate the service for four years. In parliament, the initiative was approved by 102 votes to 58.
Zipline previously operated a similar drone-deliver operation in Rwanda three years ago. A third of the 13,000 deliveries made since the service began in Ghana have been made to people in life-or-death conditions.
Supplies are requested through text message and each delivery takes about 30 minutes to arrive. Deliveries can weigh up to 1.8 kilograms and are landed by parachute.