Sierra Leone is taking another step towards the rapid and efficient provision of medical supplies to health care, thanks to the drone corridor launched last Friday by President Julius Maada Bio in Njala.
Sierra Leone has launched the first West African drone for a corridor to assist in the timely and efficient delivery of medical supplies.
At the launch, test drones were launched from the 250 m runway to demonstrate the ability of drones to travel in 200 km 2 airspace to deliver medicines to health centers, which traditionally had delays due to distances and topography.
A drone corridor is an airspace where drones and drone solutions can be tested for use in different sectors.
With the support of UNICEF Sierra Leone and UNICEF’s Office of Innovations in New York, Sierra Leone’s drone corridor will begin to explore the use of aerial drones for medical deliveries, interventions by emergency, agroforestry and geospatial mapping.
The initiative is under the technical direction of Sierra Leone’s Science, Technology and Innovation Directorate (DSTI).
President Julius Maada Bio launched the corridor in Njala and, along with other participants, witnessed drone tests.
We supported the Government today to launch the drone corridors to aid deliveries of health care drugs and others. "It is time for Sierra Leone to take the lead in solving our developmental challenges, such as maternal mortality, said President Bio pic.twitter.com/EsyCniMlrvLoading...
— UNICEF Sierra Leone (@UNICEFSL) November 29, 2019
Bio said at the launch: “It is time for Sierra Leone and other developing countries to take the lead in addressing our development challenges, such as maternal mortality. My Government has prioritized technology and innovation as an essential part of our solution package.
Using the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to accelerate our development goals is not an option – it is the only way to quickly and effectively solve the huge problems facing our people. “
The health system in Sierra Leone already has a high maternal mortality rate and is one of the highest in the world.
The Ministry of Health and Sanitation said that nearly half (46%) of all maternal deaths are due to obstetric bleeding or blood loss.
The use of drones for the delivery of medical supplies should help remedy the situation.
Dr. Suleiman Braimoh, UNICEF Representative, said: “Blood storage facilities are not widely available, so mothers die for lack of blood. Drones can be used to provide this vital input at a cost and speed to make a real difference as we have seen in other parts of the world. “
Some countries such as Ghana and Rwanda are already using drones to deliver medical supplies and others are hoping to launch similar services.