After Kaduna and Cross River, Bayelsa State picks Zipline drones to deliver essential medical supplies




The Government of Bayelsa State, Nigeria and Zipline, the global provider of instant logistics solutions to use Zipline’s drone technology to deliver essential medicines, blood and other medical commodities to health facilities within the state.

As part of the agreement, Zipline will establish a distribution hub in Bayelsa State for the introduction, operation, and maintenance of a just-in-time instant logistics solutions to ensure that essential drugs, blood and a selection of other life-saving medical supplies are available to the State health facilities in Bayelsa State.

When completed, the service will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, day or night, from the distribution center which will be equipped with Zipline’s proprietary fleet of drones.

“We remain well committed to delivering an aggressive agenda of building a dependable health delivery system in Bayelsa, part of which has given birth to this partnership. We envisage that this partnership will remain one of the most significant ways of removing the access barriers that mitigates easy delivery of medical commodities to our health facilities;” said Douye Diri, Governor of Bayelsa State. “Even distribution of on-demand medical commodities to remote and hard-to-reach areas do not only safe lives but also become a significant way of managing waste that happens as a result of expiry of medicines” 

“Zipline is pleased to partner with the people and Government of Bayelsa to advance instant, autonomous healthcare delivery across the state,” said Zipline CEO, Keller Rinaudo. “This partnership is an important milestone for Zipline as we scale smart, safe and just-in-time delivery technology and transform how goods move around the globe.” 

The Senior VP for Zipline Africa, Daniel Marfo assured that Zipline will begin the construction process immediately so as to stay within the agreed timelines. He said: “We are committed to rapidly meeting our side of this agreement, part of which entails building of a distribution hub from where we will store and deliver the medical commodities and employ hundreds local team members from Bayelsa. Our system is well tested across Africa and the United States, and there is no doubt that it is a giant step in expanding universal healthcare access in Nigeria.”

On her part, the State Commissioner of Health,  Dr. Pabara Newton Igwele said: “This partnership is significant to us as it will complement our efforts in hitching up primary health care delivery services in Bayelsa. There is no doubt that leveraging technology for medical delivery should be a game changer for even distribution of medical commodities.” 

To ensure sustainability and continuous availability of medical products within the value chain for distribution, the Bayelsa State Government, represented by the Ministry of Health, has separately entered an agreement with a consortium comprised of DrugStoc, Health Spaces, Sterling Bank and Zipline. The consortium, led by Zipline, will ensure the availability of safe, quality and affordable drugs and medicines to all residents of the state in all its health facilities. 

The Bayelsa deal follows Kaduna and Cross River states that have already signed onto the Zipline technology in Nigeria. 

The new service, expected to launch operations within six months from construction, is part of the Government of Bayelsa State’s bold vision of using drone delivery to establish universal, seven-days-a-week access to lifesaving and critical medicines for most of its citizens over the coming years. Zipline drones will make on-demand and emergency deliveries of blood products, vaccines, and life-saving medications.

The Government of Bayelsa State’s vision is for Zipline to establish one  distribution center, which is capable of covering most parts of the state. The government’s goal is to put almost all of its citizens within minutes of a lifesaving medical delivery by drone.

Throughout the world, access to life-saving and critical health products for billions of people is hampered by the last-mile problem: the inability to deliver needed medicines and vaccines due to lack of adequate transportation, communication, or supply chain infrastructure. Too often this results in unequal access to healthcare and healthcare outcomes, avoidable stockouts, and costly product waste across healthcare systems.

To increase access and reduce medical waste, key stock of blood products, vaccines and life-saving medications will be stored at Zipline’s distribution centers for just-in-time delivery. Health workers will place orders by text message or call and promptly receive their deliveries exactly when and where they need them in 30 minutes on average.

The drones both take off from and land at Zipline’s distribution hub, requiring no additional infrastructure or manpower at the clinics they serve. The drones fly autonomously and can carry 1.8 kilos of cargo, cruising at 110 kilometers an hour, and have a round trip range of 160 kilometers – even in high speed winds and rain. 

Deliveries are made from the sky, with the drone descending to a safe height above the ground and releasing a box of medicine by parachute to a designated spot at the health centers it serves. 

Each week, a single Zipline distribution center – a combination of medical fulfillment warehouse and drone airport – is capable of the micro-targeted delivery of more than two tons of temperature-controlled medicine to any point across an almost 20,000 square km service area.

Each aircraft can fly a 160-km round trip, in strong winds and rain, day or night, to make on-demand deliveries in 30 minutes on average. Zipline’s drones have flown 18 million autonomous miles to deliver millions of doses of vaccines, units of blood, and critical and life saving medications to thousands of health facilities serving more than 25 million people across three countries. 

Zipline, founded to create the first logistics system that serves all humans equally, designs, manufactures and operates the world’s largest automated delivery system. It serves tens of millions of people around the world and are making good on the promise of building an equitable and more resilient global supply chain.

From powering Rwanda’s national blood delivery network and Ghana’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution, to providing on-demand home delivery for Walmart and enabling leading healthcare providers to bring care into the home in the US, Zipline is transforming the way goods move. By transitioning to clean, electric, instant logistics, the firm believes it can decarbonize delivery, decrease road congestion, and reduce fossil fuel consumption and air pollution, while providing equitable access for billions of people.

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