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UPS foundation supports vaccine drone delivery network in Ghana

Logistics will be managed in each of the distribution centres through Zipline’s hardware and software systems. (Image source: UPS foundation)

The UPS Foundation, which leads UPS’ global citizenship programmes, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, have announced support for the expansion of a medical drone network into Ghana

Zipline, a California-based automated logistics company, will use drones to make on-demand, emergency deliveries of 148 high-priority products including emergency and routine vaccines, blood products and life-saving medicines.

The service will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from four distribution centres—each equipped with 30 drones—and deliver to more than 2,000 health facilities serving 12mn people across the country.

The partnership between the Rwandan government and Zipline, supported by philanthropic grants and in-kind support from the UPS Foundation and Gavi, pioneered just-in-time drone delivery of blood products to hard-to-reach clinics in Rwanda.

Ghana’s government is building on that success with expanded Zipline services, backed up again by Gavi and the UPS Foundation and joined this time by the Gates Foundation and Pfizer. The Zipline drone network will be integrated into Ghana’s national health care supply chain and will help prevent vaccine storage in health facilities as well as during national immunisation campaigns.

Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, said, “The ability of the government to supplement routine immunisation on demand will allow us to make sure that there will always be enough life-saving vaccines for every child in Ghana.”

Logistics will be managed in each of the distribution centres through Zipline’s hardware and software systems, and deliveries will take place in hospitals and health clinics.

The UPS Foundation will provide US$3mn, including US$2.4mn in funding and UPS will provide US$600,000 of in-kind shipping services.

The programme is an expansion of the collaboration between The UPS Foundation, Gavi, and Zipline that began in Rwanda in 2016 by supporting the Rwandan government to provide access to life-saving medical supplies in minutes rather than hours for millions of Rwandan citizens in remote communities.

Since then, the Rwandan government has expanded the programme across Rwanda, making more than 13,000 deliveries to date. Zipline drones now deliver more than 65 per cent of Rwanda’s blood supply outside the capital, Kigali.

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