Many parts of the world don’t need to worry about access to vaccines and medical care. Locals can head down to a nearby doctor’s office, clinic or pharmacy and get all the vaccinations they need.
That’s unfortunately not the case in may smaller or less-developed countries around the world.
Take Ghana for example.
The small African country is located in the northwestern shores of a vast continent. While Ghana is a middle-income African nation, locals still have trouble accessing many health needs.
To fix this problem, officials recently introduced a drone program. The devices deliver medical supplies, including anti-snake venom, blood, bandages, medicine, and vaccines.
Ghana has some waterways throughout the country, but it also has exceptionally remote regions near mountains and acres of distant farmland. These areas are already beginning to benefit from the new drone program.
Ghana chose the American-based company Zipline, to manufacture the drones.
The first drone was launched just a few short weeks ago on April 24th from the first drone service center located in Omenako which is about 45 miles north of Accra, Ghana’s capital. The drones travel at about 28 miles per hour and take 12 minutes to reach the hospital. This is a significant time-savings because it usually takes 45 minutes to go to the hospital.
But, Why Use Drones?
They may be incredibly popular device around the world, but drones also solve many transportation problems in these areas.
The drones travel about 100 miles round trip and depending on the distance, takes 30 minutes to deliver goods to the facilities. Many of the roads in Ghana are also out of commission or are unnavigable. The towering mountains and flooding makes it difficult for vehicles to traverse the country.
Drones can easily avoid many of those issues.
So, how do the drones deliver the goods to the waiting physicians and nurses?
When the center receives an order, the goods are prepared and stored in an insulated red cooler. For blood and other necessities that need cold temperatures, the coolers are a literal life-saver.
Then, the pilot assembles the drone, and it’s ready to take off. Once it reaches its destination, the drone hovers over the target and drops the supplies which are attached to a parachute.
Drones May Be a Long-Term Solution Medical Care in Ghana
Within the next four years, Ghana’s government officials plan to open three more service centers around the country.
Each center will have 30 drones and have the capacity to deliver much needed medical supplies to more than 2,000 medical clinics and hospitals. Over 12 million citizens will receive the medical care they need, especially in times of crisis.
The use of drones have given renewed hope to many doctors and nurses working in medical facilities. They already know receiving the medical supplies is a matter of life or death. Mass use of drones helps provide whatever they need in a matter of a few minutes.
Drones will also prevent spoilage of different medicines because they are being delivered promptly. This means even more people will be saved from illnesses that are treatable.
To date, approximately 60 flights take off each day. Government officials are looking forward to the day when they can have up to 2,000 flights in the air providing essential healthcare supplies around the entire region. Other countries, including Rwanda and Malawi, are closely watching Ghana’s success so that they might take advantage of the drones too.
Written for Passport Health by Sabrina Cortes. Sabrina is a freelance writer with a Bachelor’s Degree from Georgian Court University. She currently lives in the Smokey Mountains of western North Carolina.