Drones to deliver medicines to 12m people in Ghana

Neil Munshi in the Financial Times: “The world’s largest drone delivery network, ferrying 150 different medicines and vaccines, as well as blood, to 2,000 clinics in remote parts of Ghana, is set to be announced on Wednesday.

The network represents a big expansion for the Silicon Valley start-up Zipline, which began delivering blood in Rwanda in 2016 using pilotless, preprogrammed aircraft. The move, along with a new agreement in Rwanda signed in December, takes the company beyond simple blood distribution to more complicated vaccine and plasma deliveries.

“What this is going to show is that you can reach every GPS co-ordinate, you can serve everybody,” said Keller Rinaudo, Zipline chief executive. “Every human in that region or country [can be] within a 15-25 minute delivery of any essential medical product — it’s a different way of thinking about universal coverage.”

Zipline will deliver vaccines for yellow fever, polio, diptheria and tetanus which are provided by the World Health Organisation’s Expanded Project on Immunisation. The WHO will also use the company’s system for future mass immunisation programmes in Ghana.

Later this year, Zipline has plans to start operations in the US, in North Carolina, and in south-east Asia. The company said it will be able to serve 100m people within a year, up from the 22m that its projects in Ghana and Rwanda will cover.

In Ghana, Zipline said health workers will receive deliveries via a parachute drop within about 30 minutes of placing their orders by text message….(More)”.