Ghana’s lawmakers on Tuesday approved a contentious medical drones deal. The deal will allow for the delivery of medical supplies to remote areas of the country by drones.
The deal over the next four years would cost Ghana over $12.5 million. Each month, it will cost around $88,000 when running at full capacity.
It will be implemented by Ghana’s Health Service with Zipline Ghana Limited, a private firm providing the service.
Government officials say the Drone Delivery Project would make Ghana the most advanced health care supply chain on the planet.
It was approved by 102 to 58 votes despite massive public outcry over the necessity of the project at the time the country lacks ambulances. Ghana is said to have less than 100 ambulances nationwide.
The Ghana Medical Association (GMA) called for an immediate suspension of the project implementation.
The Association said in a statement that a broader consultation was needed before the project starts. The Minority in Ghana’s Parliament before Tuesday’s approval of the agreement also described it as a ripoff.
Government defends deal
Ghana’s Vice President Dr. Mahamadu Bawumia maintained that the project would improve the living standards of people.
He said “if you have a technology that can help a dying mother or someone dying of snake bite brings the medicine, I think it’s something that is so important and we should grab and make use of.”
“It is not a political issue because everybody who is dying will not ask whether you’re NDC or NPP,” he remarked
The Director-General of Ghana’s Health Service Dr Nsiah Asare told journalists in Accra that “The purpose of the drones is part of Ghana government’s policy to deliver quality health service to every Ghanaian.
We have sustainable development goals—goal 3, which says that every Ghanaian everywhere should have quality care.”
“And Ghanaians are going to use the drones to deliver drugs and services. We believe that it is the most cheapest and efficient way to deliver to the remotest and underserved areas of the country,” Dr Asare said.
The drone delivery network
The drones, authorities say will operate 24 hours daily from four distribution centres across the country.
The centres will be stocked with 148 lifesaving and essential medical supplies including emergency blood and oxytocin to save women’s lives in childbirth postpartum haemorrhage, emergency medicines for surgeries, severe infections among others, Starr FM in Accra reports.
The drones, according to officials will not replace the existing supply chain. It is to handle emergency stock out situations.
The world’s first national drone delivery service was launched in Rwanda in October of 2016.
The medical drone delivery service has helped in decreasing waste, increasing access and saving lives in Rwanda. The Rwandan government recently announced intentions to quadruple the size of its operation.