The New Tafo Government Hospital in the Eastern Region has become the first hospital in the country to receive emergency medical supplies from Zipline’s drone delivery network.
The test flights of the medical supplies to the hospital was done ahead of Wednesday’s official launch of the program by President Akufo-Addo.
The test was carried out Tuesday at the first emergency medical distribution centre at Omenako in the Eastern Region.
The drone delivery network, which will be run by the Ghana Health Service and the Ministry of Health, will give Ghana one of the most advanced health care supply chains on the planet.
The drones will operate 24 hours a day from 4 distribution centres across the country. The first distribution centre will be located near Suhum. The sites for the remaining 3 will be finalized by GHS subsequently, but are expected to cover much of the country.
The distribution centers will stock 148 lifesaving and essential medical supplies including emergency blood and oxytocin to save women’s lives in childbirth postpartum haemorrhage which is the leading cause of maternal death, emergency medicines for surgeries, severe infections, antivenins and anti-rabies, diabetic emergencies, extremely high blood pressure emergencies. When one of the 2,500 health facilities covered by the new service stocks out of a product, it will order an emergency delivery by a drone that will arrive in 30-40 minutes.
The drones will not replace the existing supply chain. They will specialize in handling emergency stock out situations. Ghana’s emergency medical drone delivery service will save tens of millions of Cedis by eliminating the need for expensive emergency trips to pick up the product, and by avoiding wasteful overstocking of product at health facilities. This revolutionary healthcare service will help save lives, decrease waste in the system and increase healthcare access for more than 14 million people nationwide.
The drones and delivery service are built and operated by Zipline, a California-based automated logistics company, which helped launched the world’s first national drone delivery service in Rwanda in October of 2016. The medical drone delivery service has been so successful at decreasing waste, increasing access and saving lives that the government of Rwanda recently asked Zipline to quadruple the size of its operation there.
Zipline will employ 200+ Ghanaians, including pharmacists, engineers, flight operations, etc. Each distribution centre will include at least 20 drones, launch and recovery equipment, state-of-the-art medical refrigeration equipment, computerized order management systems. Each will be staffed by up to 50 Ghanaian employees.