Tanzania has partnered with Zipline to provide emergency on-demand access to critical and life-saving medicines across the country.
The California-based automated logistics company, which includes seasoned aerospace veterans from SpaceX, Google, Boeing and NASA, designs and operates an autonomous system by for delivering life-saving medicine to the world’s most difficult to reach places.
It flies drones to clinics using GPS coordinates to drop small packages by parachute.
In 2018, the Tanzanian government will begin using drones to make up to 2, 000 life-saving deliveries daily to over 1, 000 health facilities, serving 10 million people across the country.
“Millions of people across the world die each year because they can’t get the medicine they need when they need it,” said Zipline CEO Keller Rinaudo. “It’s a problem in both developed and developing countries. But it’s a problem we can help solve with on-demand drone delivery. And African nations are showing the world how it’s done.”
Tanzania will join Rwanda which in 2016 became the first country in the world to set up the drone-delivery network, enabling medical personnel to order blood and medicine in case of emergencies via text message in far-flung areas of the East African country.
The country will make on-demand drone delivery of blood transfusion supplies, emergency vaccines, HIV medications, anti-malarial and critical medical supplies like sutures and IV tubes.
Dr. Mpoki Ulisubisya, Permanent Secretary of the Tanzania Ministry of Health said, “Our vision is to have a healthy society with an improved social well being that will contribute effectively to personal and national development; working with Zipline will help make that vision a reality.”
Zipline will work with the Tanzanian Ministry of Health and the country’s Medical Stores Department (MSD) to establish four distribution centers across the country: one in the capital Dodoma; two in the northwestern corner of the country near Mwanza and Lake Victoria; and another in the Southern Highlands near Mbeya.
Each of these centres will be equipped with up to 30 drones capable of making up to 500 on-demand delivery flights a day, carrying 1.5 kgs of cargo cruising at 110 km an hour and having a round trip range of 160kms.
Zipline drones take off and land at the distribution centres only, requiring no additional infrastructure at the clinics it serves. Deliveries happen from the sky with the drone descending close to the ground and air dropping the medicine to a designated spot near the health centre.
Health centres across Tanzania will place delivery orders by text message and receive their package within 30 minutes on average.
Tanzania strives to ensure that all 5,640 public health facilities have all the essential medicines, medical supplies and laboratory reagents they need, wherever they are- even in the most the hard to reach areas.