Tuesday, 23 January 2018
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As more low- and middle-income countries explore opportunities to improve their public health supply chains and diagnostics networks, knowing how best to use unmanned aerial systems (UAS) to improve reach in the last mile is critical. Under the inSupply project, JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc., and our partners LLamasoft, Inc. and the Nichols Group provide objective guidance for countries and public health stakeholders on how to make informed decisions about which health products to prioritize for cost-effective delivery using UAS vs. well-managed traditional modes of last-mile delivery, such as land cruisers and motorcycles. 

The analysis took into account geography, UAS characteristics, and characteristics of products and their demand patterns. The paper focuses on examining the cost-effectiveness for each of the following product types:

  • safe blood for transfusion
  • long-tail products (small quantity, unpredictable demand products)
  • program and essential medicines
  • vaccines
  • diagnostic specimens

The executive summary is attached and the full white paper can be downloaded here. Please let us know if you have any questions about this white paper or want to know more about our work.

5 years ago

Congratulations on this informative article that gives the first, or one of the first overviews of the costs and benefits of UAS technologies compared to conventional transport of medicines and vaccines. The results seem at a glance to be somewhat disappointing in the context of today’s high costs of UAS and the growing demands of routine distribution. 

But for vaccines, the UAS story may be much more interesting when focused on the ‘hard to reach’ who in many countries have had no access to services until PEI. These small communities are seldom found in areas of population high density. The cost of reaching them with outreach services can be 10 to 20 times per full series of vaccines and the journey time can be 5 to 15 days. The health teams will need to travel in the UAS era, though they may be smaller and the burden of icepacks and boxes may be eliminated.

Vaccine deliveries direct to outreach services will be small and journey times so short that cooling requirements may be met by active micro-cooling. Support hubs for UAS may be mobile to assure full utilization of UAS, working zone by zone to support outreach services on a single calendar. These and many other questions need to be explored and the options tested. The best countries to do this are already micro-planning for sustainable outreach services (SOS).

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