Medical drone delivery giant, Zipline, has announced the delivery of over 500,000 COVID-19 vaccines to dosing centres, mostly within hard-to-reach areas around all four of its distribution centres in Ghana. This has come at a time when, several countries within the sub-region are struggling to decentralize the even rollout of these vaccines.
The use of aerial unmanned drones to efficiently deliver medical commodities, including Covid-19, positions Ghana as a nation on a sustainable path to achieving vaccination for almost a half of the country’s population.
Since 2019, Ghana has relied on Zipline’s cold chain storage system and instant logistic vehicle to push the radical vaccination of its citizenry through an elaborate vaccination roll out programme. The Ministry of Health – Zipline collaboration has seen the country front delivery infrastructure to speed up the vaccine rollout plan, attracting praise from many stakeholders.
“We remain honoured to be working with the government of Ghana on a mission that seeks to eradicate all barriers that prevents the efficient rollout of these vaccines to all parts of the country. Our technology is a tried and tested one, having delivered over three-million programmed vaccines to over a thousand health facilities in several hard-to-reach areas of Ghana”, Naa Adorkor Yawson, General Manager of Zipline. “Today, we are able to deliver medical products and vaccines to areas such as Afram Plains within forty-five minutes, a distance that could take close to six hours by road, from our closest distribution hub”.
Elsewhere in other African countries, the report card on vaccine rollout remains a huge challenge. In March 2021, South Sudan had to destroy 59,000 covid vaccines out of 200,000 received. In April same year, the Democratic Republic of Congo returned 1.3 million doses of vaccines to COVAX, UNICEF citing challenges of a lack of storage system. Similar concerns in Malawi saw the burning of 20,000 expired covid vaccine doses. Over the course of time, nearly 450,000 doses of vaccines have been destroyed by African countries largely due to storage and distribution challenges.
The case seems different in Ghana; thanks to the efficient roll-out by the government of Ghana with support from the Zipline technology, For years, Ghana has been working to adapt its supply chain to be more agile and equitable, first, in an effort to eradicate diseases like polio, and more recently to combat COVID-19.
To date, Zipline has distributed nearly 3.8 million vaccines, including routine immunizations vaccines requiring sensitive cold-storage handling.
The reliable cold chain storage systems Zipline has, has been able to fly past the challenges experienced in other African countries and is delivering results for Ghana. The distribution centres located in strategic positions of the country is expected to continue to supply vaccines to areas that need them and demonstrate to people the role of instant logistics in the global campaign against COVID-19 to help strengthen health systems more broadly.
Ghana is among the fastest African countries to administer COVID-19 doses and it is projected that at the end of the year, the figure of 500,000 vaccine deliveries by Zipline will double as publicity firms up for more people to be vaccinated.