UPS, Swoop Aero partner to broaden medical drone deliveries in Malawi

Swoop Aero drone

Australian logistics and on-demand drone delivery specialist Swoop Aero has struck a partnership with global parcel giant UPS to expand and accelerate its distribution of healthcare supplies in Malawi, and over time elsewhere in the world.

Melbourne-based Swoop Aero said it will be getting support from the UPS Foundation to scale drone deliveries of vaccines and other medical products across Malawi, and expand its reach to increasing numbers of remote communities that healthcare services cannot routinely provide for. Joining in that effort will be global non-governmental organization VillageReach, which works to promote extension of medical care to underserved populations around the world.

The collective effort aims to boost Swoop Aero’s drone delivery operations in Malawi that it began in 2019. That year it started with USAID as part of the Global Health Supply Chain Program to transport medical supplies for HIV/AIDS patients. The following year it teamed up with UK Aid and UNICEF, and later in 2020 with the Malawi Ministry of Health and Population to increase and extend bi-directional aerial distribution of healthcare products to rural areas of the country. 

As the pandemic surged, Swoop Aero adapted operations to drone deliveries of COVID-19 vaccines across Africa. Earlier this year in Malawi, the company started distributing Pfizer COVID-19 jabs requiring ultra-cold supply chain conditions – an exacting logistics trick UPS drone affiliate UPS Flight Forward also has experience in.

Read more: As cases surge, UPS gets temperature-monitoring drones to deliver COVID-19 vaccine

Expected scaling from the UPS, VillageReach, and Swoop Aero partnership should permit the bi-directional, on-demand drone deliveries of medical products to reach 3 million people in places Malawi’s healthcare services can’t often get to. It will also factor into the nation’s Malawi Health Sector Strategic Plan II 2017-2022 to reduce inequality of access to essential healthcare.

“At Swoop Aero, we remain focused on our impact goal to serve 100 million people with sustainable drone logistics by 2025,” says company CEO Eric Peck. “Our partnership with UPS and VillageReach will help deliver this goal and showcase the long-term impact and value derived from the sustained integration and scaling up of the Swoop Aero technology in Malawi.”

Swoop Aero – which also operates medical drone deliveries in NamibiaMozambiqueSierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and other African nations – plans to integrate its most recent range of Kite drone systems into its Malawi work with UPS. In addition to its principal logistics objectives, those cutting-edge craft will allow Swoop Aero to take on emergency disaster management and search and rescue operations as well.

Read moreSwoop Aero’s medical drone delivery work in DRC hailed as life-saver 

Beyond its objectives in Malawi, UPS and Swoop Aero say they plan to extend their partnership to new and existing countries around the globe, including their respective US and Australian home markets.

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