Three years ago, Zipline launched its first medical drone programme in Rwanda. As every citizen in the country is now within 15 to 25 minutes of essential medical products, Rwanda has become the first country in the world with the ability to offer universal access to healthcare.
Since its launch in 2016, Zipline has made over 13,000 deliveries throughout the country. The company delivers 30 percent of the country’s blood supply and 65 percent of the blood supply outside of the nation’s capital.Now, Ghana is aiming to achieve similar levels of healthcare coverage across the country, with a network of four distribution centers delivering over 150 medical products to 2,000 healthcare centers covering 12 million citizens. Each distribution center will have a network of 30 drones and be able to make about 500 flights a day.
“Ghana has an administration and government that are investing really heavily in infrastructure and healthcare and technology,” said Keller Rinaudo, CEO of Zipline, in a Fast Company article. “We’ve built this partnership with them where they want to provide universal access to health care nationally, and this is obviously a huge step in that direction–making sure that every single person in the country ideally can be within a 15-minute delivery of any essential medical product.”
Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana, has praised the initiative as a way of ensuring access to care for all the country’s citizens, especially when they need it most.
“No one in Ghana should die because they can’t access the medicine they need in an emergency,” he said during the programme’s official launch ceremony, as reported by The Telegraph. “We must do everything within our means to ensure that each and every citizen of Ghana has access to the quality healthcare they deserve.”
While Zipline employs individuals from some of the world’s top aerospace companies, such as SpaceX, Google, Boeing and NASA, to design and operate the programme’s autonomous systems, the company also hires local professionals to carry out the company’s mission on the ground.
“The thing that people have consistently underestimated about Zipline, and that which is most special about the company, is that we have been able to hire fully local teams — brilliant flight engineers and flight operators and fulfillment operators — who have been able to do what some of the richest technology companies in the world have set out to do and failed,” Keller explained to CNBC.