Dear TechNet Community,
I have an exciting milestone to share on behalf of the VillageReach Drones for Health team: Since 2015, VillageReach has collaborated with stakeholders at local, regional and global levels to support supply chain solutions, including exploring the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for health to speed up deliveries and to reduce costs in logistically challenging, low-resource environments.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), we are working with the Government and Gavi on a phased approach to test and integrate drones into the existing immunization supply chain in Équateur, a large and logistically challenging province in northwestern DRC. The aim is to integrate a new transportation solution to supply vaccines more quickly and efficiently to the most inaccessible health centres in the province. VillageReach with Swoop Aero, national and provincial government stakeholders in DRC hit an exciting milestone – repeated, safe transport of vaccines and other products, via drone, in Equateur province.
In summer 2019, Swoop Aero conducted a series of test and demonstration drone flights to deliver vaccines, syringes, medicines and other supplies from Mbandaka town to the village of Widjifake, which is 3 hours away by road, but 20 minutes by drone. Flights were conducted across the Congo River, forests and the populated area of Mbandaka. In just 5 days, Swoop’s drones conducted 50 flights to and from the health centre, covering a total of 2000 km in the air and transporting over 25 kg of health products for Widjifake and three other neighbouring health centres. The results from DRC will help to inform programming and decision making regarding the next phase, including the integration of UAVs in the routine vaccine transport system to deliver immunization products in the Équateur.
Through collaboration with governments, the private sector and non-governmental organizations, VillageReach is an expert in managing proof-of-concept flights that can further guide the decision to invest in the implementation of integrated supply chains. I welcome and feedback or questions from those who are working with or interested in using drones for immunization delivery. If you would like any more information, do not hesitate to reach out. Best, Gabriella Ailstock VillageReach, Drones for Health Team