By Chinenye Anuforo
In line with efforts to achieve Universal Health Coverage goals, leading West African nations are adopting the use of medical drones.
Lately, the government of Ivory Coast announced a partnership with Zipline – US-based global leader in instant logistics – to deliver emergency medical supplies across the West African nation via it’s drone delivery service.
Recall, Nigeria’s, Kaduna and Cross River states announced partnerships with Zipline early in 2021, and are set to commence operations early this year – joining Ghana – that has since adopted the model in the West African subregion.
As part of this latest partnership, with the government of Ivory Coast, Zipline will build and operate four distribution centers from where blood products, vaccines, and medical products will be stored and distributed to more than 1,000 health facilities across the country. The first distribution center is expected to be completed and operationalized before the end of 2022.
This agreement aims to support the Ministry’s vision to achieve Universal Health Coverage by ensuring equitable access to blood products, vaccines, and medical products, especially in rural areas.
“Achieving a Universal Health Coverage is top of our priority at the Ministry and we believe that this bold decision to partner Zipline is one sure way of achieving it”, said The Minister of Health, Public Hygiene, and Universal Health Coverage, Mr. Pierre N’gou DIMBA.
He added: “We have evaluated the capacity of Zipline, their operations in other African countries with similar needs to ours, and we truly believe that this partnership will help us to remove access barriers to health care and create a more equitable and efficient health system across the country. ”
The Director, Africa Go-To-Market for Zipline, Mr. Israel Bimpe, expressed the hope that the Zipline technology is going to significantly improve the healthcare delivery system of the country. “Our revolutionary instant logistics technology, which is being deployed around the world, will largely improve access and even distribution of medical commodities to remote and hard-to-reach areas. It is for this reason that we are excited with this partnership, which overall, will improve the lives of our own people, leaving no one behind in terms of access to medical commodities ”.
Zipline will support all health facilities with emergency response capabilities, as well as routine and stockout-response deliveries of medicines, vaccines, and blood. Zipline will also serve as the sole supplier for some health facilities in remote regions in the Country, creating a more efficient delivery service.
The partnership is also estimated to culminate in the creation of many jobs for the indigenes as Zipline is expected to source local talents to man the distribution centers. Many local service providers, along the value chain, will be directly engaged by Zipline which is also expected to boost the local economy of the country.