Sierra Leone on Friday launched West Africa’s first drone for good corridor to help in fast and efficient health care delivery of medical supplies.
A drone corridor is an airspace where drones and drone solutions can be tested for use to support different sectors.
With support from UNICEF Sierra Leone and UNICEF’s Office of Innovations in New York, Sierra Leone’s drone corridor is to explore using aerial drones for medical deliveries, emergency response activities, agroforestry, and geospatial mapping to start.
The initiative is under the technical leadership of Sierra Leone’s Directorate of Science, Technology, and Innovation (DSTI).
President Julius Maada Bio launched the corridor in Njala and together with others gathered witnessed test drones.
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/EsyCniMlrv
— UNICEF Sierra Leone (@UNICEFSL) November 29, 2019
The drones were launched from the 250m runway to demonstrate the capability of drones to travel in a 200km square airspace to deliver supplies to health centers.
Health sector crisis
Bio said at the launch that “It is time for Sierra Leone and other developing countries to take the lead in solving our developmental challenges, such as maternal mortality. My Government has prioritised technology and innovation as an essential part of our solutions package.
Using fourth industrial revolution technologies to accelerate our development goals is not an option–it is the only way we can quickly and most efficiently address the huge problems existing for our people.”
Sierra Leone’s health system already experiences high maternal mortality rate and is one of the highest globally.
The country’s Ministry of Health & Sanitation National Reproductive has said that almost half (46%) of all maternal deaths are due to obstetric hemorrhage or blood loss.
Resorting to drones for medical supply delivery should help address the situation.
Dr. Suleiman Braimoh, UNICEF Representative said “The facilities to store blood are not widely available, so mothers die due to a lack of blood. Drones can be used to deliver this life-saving input at a cost and speed to make a real difference as we have seen in other parts of the world.”
There already countries like Ghana and Rwanda using drones to deliver medical supplies with others hoping to launch similar services.