CS Nakhumicha Launches First Ever Blood Delivery Drones In Kisumu

The Ministry of Health has commissioned the Zipline plant to distribute blood products and vaccines to hospitals in Kisumu and Homa Bay Counties using drones.

Drones technology seeks to slash the delivery time of life-saving medical products to the remotest places from five hours to an average of 45 minutes, thus reducing maternal deaths and incidences of malaria-induced anaemia.

Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha speaking about the official launch of the service in Chemelil, Kisumu County, said the development marks a significant milestone in enhancing healthcare access and attaining Universal Health Coverage.

‘The launch of drone deliveries for blood and vaccines is a transformative moment for healthcare in Kenya.

This technology has the potential to revolutionize access to critical medical supplies, particularly in remote areas, and significantly reduce malaria burden,’ she said.

Transporting blood and blood products to where they are required faces considerable hurdles because of intricate sup
ply chains, short shelf life and fluctuating demand. The initiative seeks to address these challenges.

Zipline adopts a centralized stock approach and implements on-demand delivery meaning that health facilities need not store blood resulting in less waste as blood spoils quickly.

The firm has partnered with the Kenya National Blood Transfusion Services and the Kisumu Regional Blood Transfusion Center to stock and deliver the product quickly and efficiently.

Miki Sofer, Zipline Vice President of Health Partnerships said the project targets serving health facilities in Kisumu and Homa Bay counties in phase one before gradually rolling out the services to the Lake Region Economic Bloc (LREB).

‘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. This development coincides with the World Malaria Day celebrations, as we have launched the delivery of life-saving blood and vaccines that are cri
tical to curbing the effects of severe malaria,’ Sofer said.

The National Vaccines and Immunization Program (NVIP) approved the distribution of vaccines as well as malaria tests and treatment kits, which underscores the importance of leveraging technology in curbing malaria mortality rates in the LREB region.

In a speech read on his behalf by his Deputy Dr. Mathews 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.’

Zipline, a US-based company signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Kisumu County to establish its regional distribution hub in the lakeside county in February 2023.

Since its inception, it has successfully made over 6,300 co
mmercial deliveries of life-saving medical supplies to over 400 health facilities.

The deliveries to these health facilities have included medicines such as oxytocin – a drug used to control bleeding during childbirth, snake antivenom and anti-rabies vials used in emergency cases of snake and dog bites respectively.

Further, Kisumu County Livestock Department relies on Zipline drones to deliver livestock semen to veterinarians in distant places for use in artificial insemination to facilitate farmers’ access to improved breeds and boost animal production.

In Africa, Zipline also operates in Rwanda, Ghana, Nigeria, Cote D’Ivoire and Tanzania.

Source: Kenya News Agency