Rwanda has launched, in the presence of President Paul Kagame, the first national drone delivery service in the world, in a ceremony in Muhanga district. The Government of Rwanda will use the drones to carry blood transfusions from and to 21 centers located in the western part of the country. Through this service there can be covered on request up to 150 daily flights.
“Drones are very useful, both commercially and for improving services in the health sector. We are happy to be launching this innovative technology and to continue working with partners to develop it further,” said President Paul Kagame.
The drones and the delivery service will be operated by Zipline, a robotics company based in California. For the beginning, the drones will carry only blood, but the international partnership between UPS, Gavi – Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization – and Zipline aims to help expand the supply of health services and vaccines that can save lives.
Rwanda plans to expand Zipline’s drone delivery service to the Eastern half of the country in early 2017, putting almost every one of the country’s 11 million citizens within reach of instant delivery of lifesaving medicines.
“The inability to deliver lifesaving medicines to the people who need them the most causes millions of preventable deaths each year around the world. Zipline will help solve that problem once and for all,” said Zipline CEO Keller Rinaudo. “We’ve built an instant delivery system for the world, allowing medicine to be delivered on-demand and at low-cost, anywhere.”
“Drones have the potential to revolutionize the way we reach remote communities with emergency medical supplies. The hours saved delivering blood products or a vaccine for someone who has been exposed to rabies with this technology could make the difference between life and death,” said Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.