Swoop Aero celebrates two years in Malawi

… extends stay in the country until 2024

It seems we are spending an awful lot of time with Swoop Aero these days.

But it is a good thing.

We are just recognising the good work they are trying to do to help deliver medicines at a faster rate in Sierra Leone, and the work they have already achieved in Malawi in the past two years.  

Last month, the company celebrated its two-year anniversary of sustained medical drone logistics operations in Malawi.

“This is a significant milestone not only for the organisation but for the whole industry,” Swoop Aero said in a statement.

“Since November 2019, Swoop Aero has worked with some of the largest organisations in the global health sector in Malawi, including USAID, FCDO (UKAID), UNICEF, and VillageReach, to improve the accessibility of essential health products to hard-to-reach communities and to support improved health outcomes and the wellbeing of the Malawian population.”

And Swoop Aero should be proud of their achievements; it is only they USA start-up Zipline that have achieved greater than two years of continuous drone delivery operations in an integrated airspace environment.

To cap off this anniversary, the company has signed a formal MOU with the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) to scale up the medical drone logistics network to a national level over the next 3-year period.

“Over the coming eighteen months, Swoop Aero and VillageReach will work collaboratively with the MoHP to scale up the bi-directional medical drone network to reach over 100 hard-to-reach health facilities. Given the government’s vision of expanding drones nationwide, the organisations plan to cover up to 150 facilities later on.”

To date, Swoop Aero has delivered over 500,000 packages globally; in Malawi, the company completed 4,500 flights, delivering 27,361 vaccines and 95,011 doses of antibiotics.

“I am proud of the ground-breaking work Swoop Aero is doing in Malawi,” said Swoop Aero’s CEO and co-founder Eric Peck. “Impact is central to Swoop Aero’s mission. Our vision is for a world where seamless supply chains bring emotional and economic prosperity to all they serve. Through our teams on the ground, we are able to deliver on our core impact goal”.

In a recent report about Swoop Aero’s work in Malawi, USAID wrote that the pilot operation demonstrated the immediate benefits pertaining to the integration of bi-directional drone networks to improve health benefits. Operating between the island of Likoma and the Nkhata Bay District Hospital, Swoop Aero brought the innovative support of drone technology to help the Malawian healthcare system deliver medicine timely and efficiently, demonstrating the power of technology to achieve strategic development goals.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Swoop Aero’s Malawi network achieved a feat that no other company in the industry has been able to do successfully; sustain a bi-directional medical drone logistics network from another country.

Besides, the company is also one of the first globally to transport the recently approved World Health Organisation malaria vaccine in the Southern districts of Nsanje and Chikwawa in Southern Malawi to achieve increased immunisation coverage in hard-to-reach and isolated areas.

Swoop Aero’s partners in Malawi have lined up to offer their congratulations:

Swoop Aero’s two-years presence in Malawi is a great story of continued collaboration and partnership with the Ministry of Health, VillageReach, USAID, UKAID, UNICEF and others championing the drone technology to improve the accessibility of essential healthcare in hard-to-reach communities – Dr. Charles Mwansambo, Secretary for Health Republic of Malawi.

I want to highlight Swoop Aero’s ability to adapt to change, particularly during COVID. Because of their ability to run the service while being in another country, we were able to keep delivering the health supplies – Sarah Pannell, Technology and Innovation Policy Advisor, UKAID.

Besides transporting medical commodities, Swoop Aero has supported the local ‘drones for good’ ecosystem and empowered young people from the African Drone and Data Academy (ADDA). Swoop has recruited ADDA graduates to pilot drones and conduct flight operations in Malawi and DRC – Marie-Claudine Villacorta, Innovations Programme Manager, UNICEF.

Since the pilot started in 2019, Swoop Aero’s team in Malawi has grown to 10 full-time members, including two pilots who are graduates from the African Drone and Data Academy (ADDA). They are responsible for the daily management and operation of flights.

The company says this team will continue to grow over the next few months, in fulfilment of the global goal of providing 100 million people with sustainable drone logistics by 2025, a reality.

Dr. Alinafe Kasiya, Country Director for VillageReach in Malawi, whose organisation has worked with Swoop Aero in other countries besides Malawi was happy for their relationship.

“VillageReach is excited to be part of this journey commemorating Swoop Aero’s two years anniversary in Malawi and our mutual work supporting the Malawi Ministry of Health in ensuring a smooth integration of drones into the national health delivery system, including at local and community levels, now to also mitigate the impact of COVID-19 pandemic and beyond,” Dr Kasiya said.

“Drones are key in ensuring that medical commodities reach individuals in hard-to-reach areas,”

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