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Kaduna to deliver medicines (even Covid-19) by drones

by Achadu Gabriel, Kaduna

Kaduna State Government and Zipline have signed a partnership with the world’s first Medical Drone Delivery Service, to convey routine and emergency medicine to every nook and cranny of the state.

A press statement issued at Sir Kashim Ibrahim House, after the groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday, said that “The revolutionary new service will use drones to make on-demand deliveries of hundreds of different vaccines, blood products, and life-saving medications.

“The service will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from three distribution centers – each equipped with 30 drones – and deliver to more than 1,000 health facilities serving millions of people across Kaduna State. 

“Together, all three distribution centers will be capable of micro-targeting the delivery of more than six tons of medical products each week over more than 60,000 square kilometres,” the statement clarified.

The statement noted, too, that “The revolutionary new service, which is expected to launch operations in the second quarter of 2021, is part of the government of Kaduna state’s bold vision of using drone-delivery to establish universal, seven-days-a-week access to lifesaving and critical medicines for most of its more than eight million citizens over the coming years.

“In addition to expanding access to routine and emergency medical deliveries, the new drone delivery service will also expand access to the COVID-19 vaccine, particularly for rural and hard-to-reach populations.

“Zipline has built an end-to-end, cold chain distribution capability that allows it to safely deliver frozen and ultra-low COVID-19 vaccines and medical products,” the statement further noted.

According to the statement, “This will allow health facilities in Kaduna state to bypass the need for ultra-low freezers – which are required to transport, store and distribute the Pfizer vaccine – by receiving on-demand deliveries of the precise amount of COVID-19 vaccines they require at any time, safely and compliantly within the required temperature profile.”

The statement also quoted Governor Nasir El-Rufai as promising that “Kaduna State is focused on delivering one of the best public healthcare systems in Nigeria, saying, “the state has upgraded 255 primary health centres, one in each political ward, to improve access to health care services.

“It is also implementing a supply chain transformation programme in the health sector, including the installation of a Pharma-grade warehouse, to efficiently service the needs of hospitals for medicines, consumables and vaccines.”

According to the governor, “Our primary health board is recruiting and training 3,000 officers to manage these systems and ensure that health facilities do not experience stock-outs.”

Governor El-Rufai noted that, “While we celebrate our successes, we must also recognize that we have much more work to do to create universal access to critical healthcare for all.

“The agreement with Zipline builds on and adds value to our initiatives to strengthen the capacity of the Kaduna State health system,” he said, adding that “This new emergency drone delivery service is a great solution to deliver vaccines, blood and other lifesaving products instantly when time is of essence. It will help ensure that millions of people in Kaduna State will always get the care they need.”

Chief Executive Officer of Zipline, Keller Rinaudo, argued that, “Where you live shouldn’t determine whether or not you have access to the medicine you need.

“That’s why I’m so proud of our partnership with Kaduna State. Our work together will help transform the quality of care for millions and help make Nigeria a world leader in using technology to expand universal healthcare access,” he added.

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