Mr Mahama Asei Seini, the Deputy Minister of Health, says government’s partnership with Zipline has made Ghana a global leader in the use of drones for medical logistics.
He said the cooperation had created a seamless network of drone delivery services and overcome geographical barriers, reduced delivery times, and saved countless lives.
Mr Seini was speaking at an event to commemorate the fourth anniversary celebration of Zipline operations in Ghana.
In April 2019, Zipline opened its first four planned distribution centres in Ghana to supply 2,500 health facilities. The fourth Ghanaian distribution centre became operational in June 2020.
To date, Zipline has completed an impressive 370,000 deliveries of medical products, blood supplies, vaccines, and animal health commodities.
The Deputy Minister said the collaboration between Zipline and the government had been a shining example of what could be achieved when the public and private sectors join forces with a common purpose.
He said as a government-supported ministry, “we are poised to continue to create an enabling environment for Zipline to function, while optimizing standard operating procedures to be more focused at underserved populations.”
Mr Seini said the Ministry would work with the company to navigate any challenges they might have in the course of their operations and also conclude on revision of the current standard operating procedure.
“We must, as a nation begin to look at the capabilities of unmanned aerial vehicles extending beyond healthcare and ways to solve problems in other industries,” he said.
The Deputy Minister said already the Ministry was envisioning the endless possibilities that drone technology could unlock in various industries and how “we can bridge access gaps. in agriculture, disaster management, and other logistics needs.”
He called on Management of Zipline to consider extending their services to the agricultural sector, where farmers, regardless of their location, could acquire critical agricultural inputs quickly and effectively.
“Zipline drones can transport seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides to farmers quickly and reliably, allowing them to maximize harvests and contribute to food security in our country,” he added.
Mr Seini said this could improve the agriculture industry and enable farmers to reach their full potential by using the technology.
“Already this is taking place, but we need to deploy this on a large scale so the benefits can reflect in our Agriculture revenue,” he said.
Madam Virginia E. Palmer, the U.S Ambassador to Ghana, said the activities of Zipline have had a heavy impact on Ghana’s economic development.
She commended the Management of Zipline for providing employment to 200 indigenous people, thereby developing home-grown talents.
Madam Palmer said the US government was working with Zipline to build on its achievements and successes by signing an agreement the US Trade and Development Agency to fund the feasibility study of developing infrastructure for rapid delivery by drone of medicines and commercial goods across Ghana and West Africa.
She said it also demonstrated US strong commitment to Ghana and the health of the Ghanaian people.
Mr Mawuli Atiemo, General Manager, Zipline Ghana said the partnership had allowed Zipline to build six centres for the distribution of essential goods to those who need them the most.
He said over these past years, they have, as a company, been relentless in its efforts in supporting the government to transform healthcare logistics in Ghana.
“Our primary goal has been to ensure the prompt and efficient delivery of critical medical supplies to communities across the nation,” he said.
He said since the launch in April 2019, the partnership had made significant strides in revolutionizing the healthcare sector in Ghana.
He said the company’s cutting-edge drone technology had enabled them to deliver essential medical supplies, including COVID-19 immunizations, blood products, animal health commodities, and other life-saving drugs, to 2700 health facilities throughout the country.
“In doing so, we have positively impacted the lives of over an astounding 20 million people,” he added.
Mr Atiemo said the company delivered almost 11-million life-saving vaccines, ensuring that Ghanaians have seamless access to crucial immunizations.
Also, over 5 million units of various medical supplies were delivered, effectively equipping healthcare facilities to cater for the diverse needs of their communities.