Instant logistics specialist Zipline has announced a new agreement to make on-demand drone deliveries of medical supplies in Africa – this time providing 24/7 service in the Nigerian state of Bayelsa.
The partnership between the government of Bayelsa and Zipline is being described as “revolutionary” in aiming to provide 24-hour, seven-days-per-week access to healthcare products and medicines to people statewide. Under the agreement, Zipline will construct and operate out of a single, centrally located distribution facility capable of covering most parts of the state. Once fully functioning, the on-demand drone service is expected to leap-frog current last-mile obstructions created by limited transportation, communication, and supply chain infrastructure to ensure speedy deliveries – in some cases measured in minutes.
Zipline has pledged to begin construction of the center quickly, and launch the service within six months of ground-breaking. Following its established model in Africa, the company will rely on locals to build and staff the warehousing and flight preparation complex.
“We are committed to rapidly meeting our side of this agreement, part of which entails building of a distribution hub from where we will store and deliver the medical commodities and employ hundreds local team members from Bayelsa,” said Daniel Marfo, senior vice president for Zipline Africa. “Our system is well tested across Africa and the United States, and there is no doubt that it is a giant step in expanding universal healthcare access in Nigeria.”
The main activity of Zipline’s Bayelsa operation will be to make drone deliveries of essential medicines, blood, and other medical supplies to health facilities across the state. The 24/7 service will rely on Zipline’s proprietary autonomous UAVs.
In order to assure full and reliable provisioning of the distribution hub, Zipline has formed a consortium with Bayelsa’s health ministry, and businesses DrugStoc, Health Spaces, and Sterling Bank. That collective body will oversee procurement of sufficient supplies of safe, quality, and affordable drugs and medicines to meet expected demand across the state.
Officials say the partnership with Zipline to offer round-the-clock, on-demand drone delivery of medical supplies is a big step toward their objective of providing citizens across Bayelsa – and eventually all of Nigeria – complete and unfettered access to healthcare.
“We envisage that this partnership will remain one of the most significant ways of removing the access barriers that mitigate easy delivery of medical commodities to our health facilities,” said said H.E. Douye Diri, governer of Bayelsa State. “Even distribution of on-demand medical commodities to remote and hard-to-reach areas does not only save lives, but also becomes a significant way of managing waste that happens as a result of expiry of medicines”
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