The UPS Foundation and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, have announced support for the expansion of a medical drone network into Ghana. Zipline, a California-based automated logistics company, will use drones to make on-demand, emergency deliveries of 148 high priority products including emergency and routine vaccines, blood products, and life-saving medications. The service will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from four distribution centers—each equipped with 30 drones—and deliver to over 2,000 health facilities serving 12 million people across the country.
The partnership between the Government of Rwanda and Zipline, supported by philanthropic grants and in-kind support from The UPS Foundation and Gavi, pioneered just-in-time drone delivery of blood products to hard-to-reach clinics in Rwanda. The Government of Ghana is building on that success with expanded Zipline services, supported again by Gavi and the UPS Foundation and joined this time by the Gates Foundation and Pfizer. The Zipline drone network will be integrated into the national healthcare supply chain in Ghana and will help prevent vaccine stockouts in health facilities as well as during national immunization campaigns.
“The ability of the Government to supplement routine immunization on demand will allow us to make sure that there will always be enough life-saving vaccines for every child in Ghana,” said Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. “This is an exciting development for Gavi that is ultimately going to ensure we leave no one behind and help us protect more children living in remote areas against vaccine-preventable diseases,” he added.
Logistics will be managed through Zipline’s hardware and software systems in each of the distribution centers, and deliveries will take place at hospitals and health clinics. The UPS Foundation will provide $3 million, including $2.4 million in funding and UPS will provide $600,000 of in-kind shipping services. Separately, UPS has already begun an analysis of Ghana’s healthcare supply chain, providing expertise designed to complement the government’s vision to continually optimize the delivery of healthcare products.
“The program’s ongoing success in Rwanda demonstrates that the collective effort of a public-private partnership focused on advanced supply chain technologies can enhance access to life-saving medical commodities throughout Africa,” said Eduardo Martinez, president of The UPS Foundation and UPS chief diversity and inclusion officer. “We are inspired to see technology and supply chain expertise used to help save lives.”