Rwanda launches drone delivery to transport blood supplies

Rwanda has launched a drone delivery network to transport blood supplies to rural areas in the country. Drone deliveries will initially focus on delivering blood supplies and rabies vaccine to health workers in Western Rwanda. The PPP include Zipline, a California-based robotics company; Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; and UPS.

The drones are expected to make around 150 deliveries to 21 facilities per day, according to Zipline, the company behind the initiative. The on-demand service allows health professionals to order packages by text message and deliveries will take approximately 30 minutes.

This technology will complement the existing supply chain, and will not replace the vehicles and motorcycle used for medical logistics in the region. Maternal death due to postpartum haemorrhage, is a critical problem in the region as in large parts of Africa; with the speedy delivery of rabies vaccine a growing need.

Drones are increasingly seen as a viable option for medical delivery in rural Africa. In March 2016, Matternet launched a pilot with UNICEF in Malawi, to test drone deliveries of blood samples from remote villages and laboratories.