The Ghanaian Parliament has approved an agreement to allow the use of drones to distribute blood and other medical essentials to health facilities across the country.
Ghana’s Parliament approves medical drone agreement
A head count was held on Tuesday (December 11, 2018) to approve the agreement by majority vote. 102 Members of Parliament (MPs) voted for the policy while 58 dissented.
The dissenting votes came from the Minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) MPs.
By this parliamentary approval, it means that the USA-based Zipline International Inc, in partnership with the Ghana Health Service, will from next year begin to use drones to deliver essential health care products to hospitals and other health facilities in the country.
According to the Ghanaian government, the drones will also be used to deliver other items such as urgent letters, examination papers and election materials such as ballot papers.
This makes Ghana the only country in the West African sub-region currently using the technology to improve health service delivery.
This agreement has been greeted with some controversy from a section of legislators in Parliament as well as the general public.
A major point of disagreement has been about the cost of the project between the two sides of the House.
The Minority MPs believe the government had signed a deal to pay $1 million for a drone which should cost some $100,000.
But the Director-General of Health Service, Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare has denied such claim saying the government was not going to buy drones at all but was going to pay for the services to be provided by the drone.
Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare explained “if the company [Fly Zipline] makes less than 15 deliveries there will be no payment. If it is from 15 to 50 deliveries they are paid $11,000 per month. If they deliver 150 deliveries per day they get $88,000 [per month].”
Another issue the Minority MPs raised was about why Fly Zipline was sole-sourced for a project costing $12 million.
However, Dr Nsiah-Asare explained that Fly Zipline is the only company working within the West African sub-region with the requisite expertise and technology, challenging opposers of the deal to mention a company that measures up to Fly Zipline in the unmanned aircraft systems.
Right after the vote in Parliament, the Minority walked out of the chamber to hold a press conference registering their displeasure.
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