Instant logistics specialist Zipline has further expanded its already broad footprint in Africa by starting work on a new medical drone delivery hub in Nigeria’s Cross River State.
A groundbreaking event was held on Sunday in Ogoja, toward the northern border of Cross River State. The ceremony marked the long-awaited process of preparing Zipline’s medical drone delivery facility in Nigeria, which was initially agreed upon back in May. It’s unclear what caused the delay in the work getting underway, but officials involved in the project say the logistics and flight hub should be ready by June.
The company’s operation in Cross River State is a reflection of just how finely tuned – and replicable – its activities in Africa have become since it began medical drone delivery work in 2016 flying blood products to various destinations in Rwanda. Like a similar center Zipline has started setting up in Bayelsa State in southwest Nigeria, its Cross River facility will dispatch supply flights on a 24/7 basis, when necessary on-demand.
That will permit regular provisioning of about 10,000 health facilities across the state, and thereby avert shortages or depletion of supplies that arise from irregular or long road transport. It will also allow for quick delivery of medicines, vaccines, and blood in emergency situations.
As is the case in Bayelsa and other African countries like Namibia and Ghana that are working with Zipline, the Cross River medical drone delivery operation reflects the determination of local and national governments to extend access healthcare to remote or difficult to access regions that need it most.
“Improved and timely access to healthcare is a cardinal objective of the state government… (and) our partnership with Zipline, underscores this,” said Cross River State’s Commissioner of Health, Betta Edu. “The partnership with Zipline, would further ensure even distribution of medical commodities to health facilities across the state and we look forward to the earnest completion of the project.”
Catherine Odiase, Zipline’s country manager in Nigeria, described the Cross River medical drone delivery operation as another example of how the company is working to assure greater healthcare access across Africa in lock step with local authorities who have made that objective their priority.
“We are on a mission to reinvent healthcare delivery systems through cutting edge solutions,” Odiase said. “This is with a view to ensure healthy lives and promote the well-being for all at all ages. On completion, due in about four months, the hub will facilitate deliveries of vital medical supplies to health facilities that serve millions of people across the state.”