Zipline, a US-based startup improving access to healthcare, and saving lives by so doing, using drones, has commenced the delivery of medical supplies in Rwanda via its specially made drones.
The startup, nine months ago, signed a partnership with the Rwandan Government to use drones to tackle challenges associated with delivering blood and other medical supplies to remote areas.
For several months, the startup tested its launch system at a distribution centre, which houses 15 custom-built drones known as “Zips”, in the Muhanga region.
The Zips can fly up to 150 kilometers, round-trip, and carry up to 1.5 kilograms of blood.
Blood deliveries to 21 health facilities in Northern, Southern and Western provinces of Rwanda via the drones commenced earlier today.
Hospitals can order blood via text message and have it parachuted to their location in 15 minutes, on average, eliminating the need for onboard refrigeration or insulation.
The drones will make the deliveries without touching down, ensuring they don’t pose a risk to persons around and don’t get whisked away by unscrupulous elements.
The availability of blood will ensure patients are attended to in time, which will go a long way in reducing unnecessary and unwarranted deaths.
At the moment, the focus will be blood delivery. In the coming months, the drones will used to deliver all manner of medical supplies including vaccines and medicine.
President Paul Kagame was on hand to launch one of the drones.
President Kagame launching a Zipline medical delivery drone now in Muhanga #Rwanda pic.twitter.com/D9rHG4WlN4
— Presidency | Rwanda (@UrugwiroVillage) October 14, 2016
In a series of Tweets, he said the launch was a milestone for the country and hopes it inspires more innovations.
This feat is an eye-opener for other African countries, especially Ghana, where you can get jailed for 30 years for flying a drone, and my beloved Nigeria, where you’ll need to get water out of a rock to fly a drone.
“Rwandans have learned to embrace innovation, especially when it is clear that it can help us solve the challenges we face,” said Paul Kagame
This, from henceforth, should be norm for leaders in Africa. Embrace innovation that can help solve the myriad of problems we face. It’s the right thing to do… ain’t no question!
As for Zipline, they’re not stopping in Rwanda. The goal is to deliver a wide range of medical products in other countries this year. They hope to make on-demand medical supplies delivery a thing!!!