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Medical drone centre to be sited in Suhum

Medical drone centre to be sited in Suhum
Source: Ghana | Joy News | Matilda Wemegah
Date: 11-02-2019 Time: 05:02:04:pm

The first drone centre for the distribution of essential medical supplies including blood, will be sited in a town 5km from Suhum by March 2019.

Dominase, the town to house the drone centre, will house 148 essential medicines and blood.

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The Head of System Integration at Zipline Ghana says 20 operational drones will be used to serve health facilities within Eastern, Central and some parts of Greater Accra Region.

 “Once we have the center built up and ready, we hope to be able to do an official launch and start offering the service to the facilities within the vicinity sometime before 2020,” Daniel Marfo told a team of journalists including JoyNews' Matilda Wemegah, who were given a guided tour of the drone programme in Rwanda.

The government has often sited Rwanda as a successful test case for the implementation of the drone delivery of essential medication and blood to rural areas.

This is because, the company behind the innovation, Zipline, implemented the project first in Rwanda where the supply of medication in some areas has been reduced from 5 hours to 20minutes. 

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Mr. Marfo also debunked suggestions that the done project will replace existing medical shipment and supply chain. In his words, it will “complement it.”

“The drone service does not replace anything within the health service. It complements it and brings further improvement.”

He explained this further: “So, for instance, all the health facilities in Ghana receive periodic shipment of medicines and supplies. We are not replacing that process. It is an existing supply chain.  But what happens is that despite your best planning there are times you run shot of a product for various reasons.

There could be bad weather, rainfall, where the road becomes so bad and unmotorable. These are the points where you need supplies to come to you on an emergency basis. So that you can fill in the gab while you await your regular supply.

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however, the project which is expected to cost 12.5-million-dollars has come under intense criticism from even the Ghana medical Association who claim that they were not consulted. While the Association insists it is not against the use of technology in its service delivery it insists the drone delivery services are not a priority.

In a statement they argued, “The proposed services to be provided by the drones do not conform to the primary healthcare policy in Ghana where different levels of care have different capacities to perform specific functions.

“The use of drones without the necessary improvement in the human resource capacity will not inure to the benefit of the country in its quest to improve healthcare delivery,” The GMA said.