Nigeria: Bayelsa State and Zipline to expand medical access using unmanned aerial vehicles
By this agreement, Zipline will establish a distribution hub in Bayelsa State for the introduction, operation, and maintenance of a just-in-time instant logistics solutions to ensure that essential drugs, blood and a selection of other life-saving medical supplies are available to the State health facilities in Bayelsa State.
When completed, the service will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, day or night, from the distribution center which will be equipped with Zipline’s proprietary fleet of drones.
To ensure sustainability and continuous availability of medical products within the value chain for distribution, the Bayelsa State Government, represented by the Ministry of Health, has separately entered an agreement with DrugStoc, Health Spaces, Sterling Bank and Zipline - forming a consortium.
This consortium, being led by Zipline, will ensure the availability of safe, quality and affordable drugs and medicines to all residents of the state in all its health facilities.
To increase access and reduce medical waste, key stock of blood products, vaccines and life-saving medications will be stored at Zipline’s distribution centers for just-in-time delivery. Health workers will place orders by text message or call and promptly receive their deliveries exactly when and where they need them in 30 minutes on average.
The drones both take off from and land at Zipline’s distribution hub, requiring no additional infrastructure or manpower at the clinics they serve. The drones fly autonomously and can carry 1.8 kilos of cargo, cruising at 110 kilometers an hour, and have a round trip range of 160 kilometers - even in high speed winds and rain.
Deliveries are made from the sky, with the drone descending to a safe height above the ground and releasing a box of medicine by parachute to a designated spot at the health centers it serves.
Each week, a single Zipline distribution center - a combination of medical fulfillment warehouse and drone airport - is capable of the micro-targeted delivery of more than two tons of temperature-controlled medicine to any point across an almost 20,000 square km service area.
Each aircraft can fly 160 km round trip, in strong winds and rain, day or night, to make on-demand deliveries in 30 minutes on average. Zipline’s drones have flown 18 million autonomous miles to deliver millions of doses of vaccines, units of blood, and critical and life saving medications to thousands of health facilities serving more than 25 million people across three countries. ■