Zipline’s Kisumu centre commences delivery of blood using drones

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Zipline is set to commence delivery of blood products to hospitals in Kisumu and Homa Bay Counties.

Health Cabinet Secretary Sussan Nakhumicha and Kisumu Deputy Governor Dr Mathews Owili on April 25, presided over the launch of the service at Zipline’s distribution centre in Chemelil, Kisumu County.

The move is set to boost the fight against Malaria and other emergency medical cases which require transfusion.

Zipline is an instant delivery service that operates a drone manufacturing and delivery system, delivering medical supplies as well as non-medical products including e-commerce and animal health products.

We are here to celebrate one of the many milestones coming from our partnership with the County Government of Kisumu to reach the unreachable and enable healthcare access. Today, on World Malaria Day, we have launched the delivery of life-saving blood and vaccines that are critical to curbing the effects of severe malaria

Miki Sofer, Zipline Vice President of Health Partnerships.

For the past one year, Zipline has been using the drone technology to deliver medicine and other medical supplies within the 14 Lake Region Economic Bloc (LREB) counties.

However, the new deal between Zipline, the Ministry of Health, and the County Government of Kisumu will now see blood blood products and vaccines onboarded in the drone delivery program.

Zipline described the collaboration as a major milestone in Kenya’s efforts to improve healthcare access and achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

On-demand deliveries

Zipline will adopt a centralized stock approach and implement on-demand delivery, ensuring that any health facility within its service radius receives the necessary products within 45 minutes.

Collaborating with the Kenya National Blood Transfusion Services and the Kisumu Regional Blood Transfusion Center, Zipline will commence deliveries in Kisumu and Homa Bay counties before gradually extending its reach to other regions.

“The launch of drone deliveries for blood and vaccines is a transformative moment for healthcare in Kenya,” said CS Nakhumicha.

She added: “This technology has the potential to revolutionize access to critical medical supplies, particularly in remote areas, and significantly reduce malaria burden.”

Zipline technical staff takes Health CS Sussan Nakhumicha and Kisumu Deputy Governor Dr Mathews Owili through the process of drone technology operation.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the lake endemic zone has the highest malaria prevalence among children aged six months to 14 years at 19 per cent compared with the national average of six per cent in 2020.

And with transporting blood and blood products to where they are needed presenting significant challenges due to complex supply chains, short shelf life, and fluctuating demand, the innovative intervention is expected to address these obstacles.

As we strive towards Universal Health Coverage, the government must enter strategic partnerships to ensure that health building blocks and innovative solutions and logistics management of medical supplies will play a vital role.

Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o

Zipline will also undertake the distribution of vaccines, sanctioned by the National Vaccines and Immunization Program (NVIP), to health facilities across the LREB, starting with Kisumu.

“We are here to celebrate one of the many milestones coming from our partnership with the County Government of Kisumu to reach the unreachable and enable healthcare access. Today, on World Malaria Day, we have launched the delivery of life-saving blood and vaccines that are critical to curbing the effects of severe malaria”, said Miki Sofer, Zipline Vice President of Health Partnerships.

In a speech read on his behalf by Dr Owili, Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o said: “As we strive towards Universal Health Coverage, the government must enter strategic partnerships to ensure that health building blocks and innovative solutions and logistics management of medical supplies will play a vital role. I commend our partnership with Zipline, which has already made over 6,300 deliveries of life-saving commodities since its inception in February 2023”.

The launch of the program coincided with World Malaria Day, underscoring the significance of the endeavor as LREB counties grapple with malaria prevalence.

Zipline, which has been operating in Rwanda and Ghana since 2016 and 2019 respectively, launched its commercial deliveries in Kenya in February 2023, serving the Kisumu region, and since then has successfully made over 6,300 commercial deliveries out of its state-of-the-art distribution center in Chemelil.

The launch followed the signing of a partnership agreement with the County Government of Kisumu, establishing a Zipline distribution hub in Chemelil, which serves as the base of operations for its unmanned aerial system (UAS) and services, capable of serving health projects across the county and beyond.

Kevine Omollo
Kevine Omollo
Lake Region Bulletin is your one stop multi-media platform for news from Lake Region Counties of Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay, Migori, Kisii, Nyamira, Vihiga, Kakamega, Busia, Bungoma, Trans Nzoia, Nandi, Kericho and Bomet. Email: komollo@lakeregionbulletin.co.ke omollokevine@gmail.com

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