Govt exposes Minority over GHS drones

 

Government has debunked claims by the minority that it was purchasing drones under the Ministry of Health Ghana Drone Delivery Project.

The drone delivery network, which will be run by the Ghana Health Service (GHS) and the Ministry of Health in partnership with a private company called Zipline Ghana Limited, will give Ghana the most advanced health care supply chain on the planet.

Addressing the Parliamentary Press Corps in Accra on Tuesday, December 4, 2018 the Director-General of GHS, Dr Nsiah Asare, said the ministry of health was focusing on a performance-driven structured service agreement for the project.

He said government was not purchasing drones as widely speculated by the minority and sections of the media.

“We bear no risk for the installation, the operation is not to our cost, a contract is purely a service contract,” he stated.

Dr Nsiah Asare said the ministry of health will only pay Zipline when they succeed in setting up the distribution centre and then when they meet the performance specification.

The drone delivery network, which will be run by the Ghana Health Service and the Ministry of Health, will give Ghana one of the most advanced healthcare supply chains on the planet.

The drones will operate 24 hours a day from 4 distribution centres across the country. The first distribution centre will be located near Suhum. The sites for the remaining 3 will be finalised by GHS subsequently, but are expected to cover much of the country.

The distribution centres will stock 148 lifesaving and essential medical supplies including emergency blood and oxytocin to save women’s lives in childbirth postpartum haemorrhage which is the leading cause of maternal death, emergency medicines for surgeries, severe infections, antivenins and anti-rabies, diabetic emergencies, extremely high blood pressure emergencies. When one of the 2,500 health facilities covered by the new service stocks out of a product, it will order an emergency delivery by a drone that will arrive in 30-40 minutes.

The drones will not replace the existing supply chain. They will specialise in handling emergency stock out situations. Ghana’s emergency medical drone delivery service will save tens of millions of Cedis by eliminating the need for expensive emergency trips to pick up the product, and by avoiding wasteful overstocking of product at health facilities. This revolutionary healthcare service will help save lives, decrease waste in the system and increase healthcare access for more than 14 million people nationwide.

The drones and delivery service are built and operated by Zipline, a California-based automated logistics company, which helped launched the world’s first national drone delivery service in Rwanda in October of 2016. The medical drone delivery service has been so successful at decreasing waste, increasing access and saving lives that the government of Rwanda recently asked Zipline to quadruple the size of its operation there.

Zipline will employ over 200 Ghanaians, including pharmacists, engineers, flight operations, etc. Each distribution centre will include at least 20 drones, launch and recovery equipment, state-of-the-art medical refrigeration equipment, computerized order management systems. Each will be staffed by up to 50 Ghanaian employees.

Zipline must operate drone flights from the distribution centres on a 24/7 basis to deliver medical products on request to health facilities within an 80 km service radius. Zipline will guarantee a capacity of 150 flights per DC day.

This means that the 4 distribution centres will be able to make up to 600 emergency deliveries per day total (and the flights can usually carry more than 1 product). The cost for the service in Ghana at full operations is $88,000 per distribution centre per month. This equates to $352,000 per month for all 4 distribution centres, or $4,224,000 per year for all 4 distribution centres.

This price is discounted during Zipline’s ramp-up, to make sure that Ghana only pays for the service as and when Zipline makes it available.

The project is expected to serve over 2,500 facilities, meaning that MOH will be paying only $175 per facility per month for 24/7 instant access to almost any emergency supply the facility may need.

 

 

 

Story: Franklin ASARE-DONKOH

Writer’s email: franklin.asare-donkor@todaygh.com

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