UPS, Zipline and Gavi will use drones to transform vaccine and aid delivery

By Polycarp Kazaresam

The UPS Foundation, Zipline and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance will collaborate to explore the use of drones for delivering blood and vaccines across the world. The UPS Foundation has contributed a $800,000 grant to support the initial launch on the initiative in Rwanda.

The public-private partnership will use UPS’ global logistics expertise, cold chain and healthcare delivery. They will combine these resources with Zipline’s national drone delivery network and Gavi’s experience in protecting health in developing countries.

“Public-private partnerships are the key to solving many of the world’s challenges, with each partner contributing its unique expertise,” said Eduardo Martinez, president of The UPS Foundation and chief diversity and inclusion officer at UPS. “UPS is always exploring innovative ways to enhance humanitarian logistics to help save lives, and we’re proud to partner with Gavi and Zipline as we explore ways to extend the Rwandan government’s innovations at a global scale.”
 

The Rwandan government will begin using the Zipline drones later this year. The remote-controlled devices can make up to 150 deliveries per day of life-saving blood to 21 transfusing facilities located in the western half of the country.

According to the WHO, Africa has the highest rate in the world as a result of postpartum hemorrhaging, which makes access to lifesaving blood transfusions critically important for women across the continent.

“Our partnership with UPS and Zipline is an exciting step into a new territory for the delivery of medical supplies,” said Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. “It is a totally different way of delivering vaccines to remote communities and we are extremely interested to learn if UAVs can provide a safe, effective way to make vaccines available for some of the hardest-to-reach children.”

The partnership plans to expand the initiative to include vaccines, treatments for HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and many other essential and lifesaving medicines. Rwanda’s drone initiative is predicted to save thousands of lives over the next three years and could serve as a model for other countries. 

 

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