The drones, which will be used in conveying essential medicines like epidemic and viral load samples and most importantly blood, will make Ghana the second in Africa after Rwanda to use drones to deliver blood and other needed supplies to rural villages in Ghana
The Director General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare, made this known in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) after he had participated in a panel discussion session as part of the ongoing 22nd International AIDS Conference at the RAI Convention Centre in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
The session was on the theme: ‘Ending AIDS Epidemic & Achieving Universal Health Coverage by 2030 In Africa’.
The five-day conference on the theme: ‘Breaking Barriers, Building Bridges’ is being attended by about 18,000 participants from around the globe, including researchers from various disciplines, medical professionals, public health, community practitioners and policy planners.
The AIDS conference is aimed at promoting human rights-based and evidence-informed HIV responses designed to meet the needs of the vulnerable communities like persons living with HIV, displaced populations, men who have sex with men, people in closed settings, people who use drugs, sex workers, transgender people, women and girls and young people to collaborate in fighting the disease beyond country borders.
Dr Nsiah-Asare explained that Vice President Dr Mahamadu Bawumia visited Silicon Valley, San Francisco and met a company called Zipline, one of the biggest start-ups using drones, to provide medical equipment and services to remote areas.
He said the team from Zipline followed up to Ghana and a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed with them.
Dr Nsiah-Asare added that the service agreement had been made and approved by cabinet, which is currently going through the system at the National Procurement Authority (NPA0).
He pointed out that Zipline would bring the materials and build the equipment in Ghana, adding this would “also create jobs to our citizens since they will employ procurement, specialists, laboratory technicians and IT specialists and engineers.”
Dr Nsiah-Asare said the second phase would be having one in every region. It will fly a maximum one hour to drop commodities and come back. The drone will carry a weight of 1.5 to 2 kilos to serve hard to reach areas as well as CHPS compounds.
The Ghana Post, he explained, would also be using the drones to drop their expedited mail services (EMS) to their various destinations.
Dr Nsiah-Asare said a committee has been formed with the Ghana Civil Aviation (GCA) to see where the drones would be flying.
“Our idea will be bigger than that of Rwanda since theirs is only for the transportation of blood but we are extending it to include other epidemic samples and viral load samples to save lives by preventing such essential medicines to be driven on the rough roads for hours and days to long distances,” he disclosed.
The use of drones will be piloted in three zones — southern, middle and northern and there would be supply of commodities to regional facilities and districts which have medical stores for safe storages.
This, he indicated, would help cut down wastage in the system, save money as well as save lives since it will take a maximum of one hour in conveying the essential commodities when they are needed, adding, “It will take just small quantity and will go as at when the they are needed.”