A consortium involving Australian drone company Swoop Aero has successfully concluded a 30-day drone trial in Ethiopia. This evaluation, begun in October 2023, consisted of 44 flights that transported a total of 6,936 vaccine doses to clinics located in remote areas.
These vaccines covered diseases such as tuberculosis, polio, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, Hib (haemophilus influenzae type b) and hepatitis B. After the successful trial phase, the medical drone network will expand by doubling capacity and will operate for an additional 90 days starting early this year.
Alliance for medical deliveries with drones in Ethiopia
Importantly, the drone project received funding from Red Lightning, a non-profit organization, and was operated by Kenya-based logistics company Freight in Time Group, in collaboration with the Ethiopian Information Network Security Agency. (INSA), a government agency.
The plan implemented Swoop Aero’s Kite automated drone, capable of flying up to 120 km with a payload of 3 kg. To further expand the network, the collaborators established a battery exchange location, expanding the reach of their test route to 240 km from the distribution center.
The Ethiopian Pharmaceutical Supply Service (EPSS), a sub-agency of the Ethiopian Ministry of Health, supported the initiative by acting as a coordination and supply center for clinic orders, loading the drones with necessary medical supplies.
For its part, Swoop Aero also recently announced a collaboration with Red Lightning, along with the Luke Commission, the UPS Foundation and USAID to establish the first medical drone network in Eswatini this year. The company previously received funding from the Australian government to expand its operations in Queensland in December 2022.
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