Tanzania is set to launch the world's largest drone delivery service

“African nations are showing the world how it’s done.”

Tanzania is set to launch the world’s largest drone delivery network in early January, to provide emergency on-demand access to critical and life-saving medicines.

The Tanzanian government, in partnership with Zipline, an automated logistics company based in California, says it will begin using drones to make up to 2,000 life-saving deliveries per day to over one thousand health facilities.

“Our vision is to have a healthy society with improved social well being that will contribute effectively to personal and national development; working with Zipline will help make that vision a reality,” said said Dr. Mpoki Ulisubisya, Permanent Secretary of the Tanzania Ministry of Health.

Malaria is a major killer in Tanzania and children under the age of five often need blood transfusions when they develop malaria-induced anaemia. If supplies are out of stock, as is often the case with rare blood types, they can die.

“We strive to ensure that all 5,640 public health facilities have all the essential medicines, medical supplies and laboratory reagents they need, wherever they are—even in the most the hard to reach areas,” said Laurean Bwanakunu, Director General of Tanzania's Medical Stores Department.

The drones fly at 100 km (62 miles) per hour, much faster than travelling by road. Small packages are dropped from the sky using a biodegradable parachute.

With this project, the government hopes it will save the lives of thousands of women who die from profuse bleeding after giving birth seeing that Tanzania has one of the world’s worst maternal mortality rates, with 556 deaths per 100,000 deliveries.

“It’s a problem we can help solve with on-demand drone delivery,” Zipline’s chief executive, Keller Rinaudo, said in a statement. “African nations are showing the world how it’s done.”

Tanzania follows in the footsteps of neighboring Rwanda which in October last year partnered with Zipline to launch the world’s first national drone delivery service to make on-demand emergency blood deliveries to transfusion clinics across the country.

The East African nation has committed to using the Zipline technology for one year. If things go well, it plans to expand the program.


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