• Monday, July 22, 2024
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BusinessDay

How Zipline is closing medical supply chain gaps in Africa

Zipline begins commercial delivery of medical supplies in Cross River

Globally, nearly 2 billion people lack access to essential medical products such as blood and vaccines due to gaps in supply chains and poor infrastructure, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

This is why having a functional supply chain with appropriate warehousing, and end-to-end transportation, is critical to making sure that people have access to essential medicine.

Findings have shown that developing countries like Nigeria often lack adequate supplies, correct doses and affordable medication at their health centres.

In some cases, health ministries had to set up semi-autonomous entities such as National Level Medical Stores and Regional Medical Stores to purchase, store and distribute medicine and other medical supplies to health centres, hospitals and dispensaries across the country.

Nigeria recently became the third African country to use Zipline’s drone delivery system, following national-scale operations in Ghana and Rwanda. The firm is also perfecting plans to launch operations in Kenya and Cote d’Ivoire later in the year.

Kaduna State has begun to procure medical commodities – vaccines, medicines, and blood – through the newly established Zipline distribution centre located at Pambegua.

Increasingly, drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) are being used to fill in supply chain gaps, and provide the needed access to medicine, medical supplies and vaccines.

Read also: Innovation, research seen driving Nigeria’s circular economy

For instance, with Zipline’s autonomous drone delivery service, health facilities can receive products within 45 minutes or less, faster than using traditional, and complex procurement systems that take days.

By storing medicine, blood and other critical medical supplies and delivering them directly to health facilities, Zipline is helping the government of Ghana to reduce wasted medication resulting from overstocking and expiration.

Charles Kofi Azagba, a district director of Health in Ghana, said recently that before the introduction of the Zipline, they used to pass through a lot of difficulties in getting medical and non-medical supplies to the various health facilities.

Azagba said the coming of the Zipline helped them not to run out of stock and to receive supplies swiftly in less than 30-minutes when they run out supplies.

It has been discovered that factors such as high disease, lack of adequate resources to deliver quality healthcare to the population, drug shortages and inadequate number and skill-mix of healthcare providers are very common in rural health facilities.

This was why Zipline’s technology has proved to be a valuable tool in assisting governments in achieving access to healthcare. A Zipline hub can send medical supplies to more than 500 health facilities within an 80km radius flying at about 110km/hour.

Within the first week of operation in Kaduna state, the company delivered over 1,000 medical items to several health facilities.

In addition to Kaduna, Zipline has announced partnerships with the Cross River and Bayelsa states, with an aim to begin operations before the end of 2022, serving thousands of health facilities across Nigeria.