LAGOS — 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.
Its Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Keller Rinaudo, made this known in a statement on Wednesday in Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Zipline recently signed an MOU on drone delivery of medical aids – comprising vaccines, blood, and other lifesaving products with the Kaduna State Government.
Rinaudo, also co-founder of Zipline, said that the Government of Ghana would use Zipline’s 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.
“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,” he said.
Rinaudo said the company would ensure equitable access to delivery of the vaccine.
He said, “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.”
Also, the Senior Vice President, Zipline Africa, Daniel Marfo said, “This, no doubt, is an exciting time for Africa.
“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.”
The General Manager, Zipline in Ghana, Mr Naa Adorkor Yawson, said the organisation was honored to be doing that with its key partners, Ministry of Health, Ghana Civil Aviation Authority, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and the UPS Foundation.
Yawson said, “With this intervention, we believe Ghana will be in a position to distribute the vaccine as quickly and equitably as possible.”
Arrival of the vaccine in Accra is the first batch delivered anywhere in the world by the COVAX Facility.
It was part of an unprecedented effort to deliver 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.
Zipline has distributed nearly one million routine vaccine doses in 2020 alone.
In April 2020, Zipline began delivering COVID-19 test samples to Accra and Kumasi.
This marked the first time in history that autonomous drones have been used to make regular long-range deliveries into densely populated urban areas. It was also the first time that drones had been used in this way to deliver COVID-19 test samples.
In December 2020, Ghana also deployed Zipline to rapidly distribute personal protective equipment (PPE) to Ghana’s poll workers for the presidential election.
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