Drones have made health-tech a reality after Ghana recently started the largest medical service delivery through drones. The project is expected to take care of the government’s agenda for universal health care coverage. Drone medical delivery service was first launched in 2016 in Rwanda, and 3 years later, Zipline, a Californian based company has extended its operations to Ghana.
It is stipulated that the drones will airdrop a total of 15,000 vaccines, including those of diphtheria, polio and tetanus. The clinicians are expected to make orders of the medical products that go out of stock or the ones they need in an emergency via a text message. Afterward, the drones are sent with the packages and within thirty minutes they deliver the requirements. Upon reaching safe distances, the medical facilities are delivered through a parachute. It is indeed an amazing innovation because drones carry weights of up to 1.8kg, so it’s possible to carry a variety of medical products.
Using the swift aircraft to deliver vaccines, drugs, and blood units will ensure that healthcare is universal to all including those in remote areas since no new supply routes need to be constructed. Drones do not need new infrastructure to be put in place, especially in the interior areas where health care facilities like ambulances are unable to access. The drone technology in healthcare is paramount to even save lives in critical conditions. Take for instance a patient who needs a vaccine against snake venom and another a vaccine against rabies. These patients are only safe if these vaccines reach the health unit urgently. Drones are excellent in this because of their swift speeds of 110km per hour, which saves many lives. In Ghana, distributions will be made from four stations with 30 drones in each.
The drones are set to make up to 600 flights a day delivering 170 different vaccines to more than 2,500 health spots. Over time, up to 2,000 deliveries will be made sure that all the health facilities receive ample medical services for all types of patients. Incorporating this project and the Rwanda one which has already made more than 13,000 deliveries (a third being vaccines for patients with critical conditions) since inception in 2016, 22 million people will be lucky to receive fast-paced treatment.
To manage and operate the autonomous systems of the drones, the Zipline company (designer of the drones) has hired expert aerospace engineers from SpaceX, Google, Boeing, and NASA. This is to ensure that these swift gadgets run efficiently when handling these delicate products.
The President of Ghana during the launch of the program, said, ” No one should die because they cannot access the medicine they need in an emergency.” Therefore, this project has full support from the government. Apparently, medical service delivery through drones has streamlined the healthcare sector in Ghana. Gavi CEO, Dr. Seth Berkley a supporter of the initiative also said, ” The ability of the government to supplement routine immunization on demand will allow us to always make sure that there will always be enough life-saving vaccines for every child in Ghana.