Ethiopia extends medical drone trials

The consortium that was working on a delivery drone pilot project in Ethiopia has been so impressed by initial results that it will be doubling up flights in the coming year.

Lead and funded by non-profit organisation Red Lightning, and operated by Kenya-based logistics firm Freight in Time Group and the Information Network Security Agency of Ethiopia (INSA) government agency; with Swoop Aero jumping on board as the drone partner, the project was initially set to run for 30 days starting on October 20 this year.

Its mission was to test the effectiveness of delivering medical supplies to remote communities in Ethiopia, which included vaccines against tuberculosis, polio, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), Hib (haemophilus influenzae type b), and hepatitis B trial.

A total of 44 flights carrying 6,936 vaccine doses to clinics in remote communities were completed without complications; and the consortiums parties – having been delighted by initial returns – agreed to continue the drone-based medical delivery network for another 90 days, starting early next year.

As the drone partner, Swoop Aero deployed the Kite – a delivery drone capable of flying up to 120km with a 3kg payload.

To expand the network further, the partners established a battery swap location along the way, extending their trial route’s reach to 240km from the distribution hub.

The Ethiopian Pharmaceutical Supply Service (EPSS), a sub-agency of the Ethiopian Ministry of Health, supported the endeavour by acting as a coordination and supply hub for clinic orders – from where the drones were loaded with the required medical supplies.

“The response from the local communities has been overwhelmingly positive,” Red Lightning said.

“This collaborative effort exemplifies the power of innovation, technology, and community engagement in improving healthcare access and saving lives in Ethiopia. With expansion proposals approved on December 1st, the medical drone network will run for an additional 90 days starting in early 2024 and the network will double in size.”


Leave a Comment


Welcome! Login in to your account

Remember me Lost your password?

Lost Password