A drone service firm is in talks with the Ugandan government on a deal to deliver blood packages, drugs and medical equipment to public health facilities, an executive told Reuters.
A deal could see Uganda join a few African countries, including Ghana and Rwanda, deploying unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to help public health logistics.
Uganda’s public hospitals often face shortages of essentials, such as blood, drugs, syringes, gauze and gloves, sometimes due to unreliable transport or along poorly paved or dirt roads in rural areas.
John Goslino, business manager at Flexdrone, told Reuters the drone services firm launched by a Ugandan and a German aimed to start a delivery service in March if talks were successful.
The service secured approval from the Information and Communications Technology Ministry and was awaiting an endorsement from the Health Ministry.
“We are trying to provide products needed by the patient and the health worker in the village when that person needs it,” Goslino said.
Smaller public health facilities in Ugandan do not have proper facilities to store blood and supplies need to be transported long distances in an emergency. Ugandan media report deaths due to delayed blood deliveries.
Goslino said his firm partnered with Ugandan start-up Sysimo Technologies to develop a mobile app for the on-demand delivery service.
Flexdrone plans to deploy drones capable of carrying 5kg each but could use bigger drones as demand grew, he said.
A similar service led by Zipline, a California-based robotics company, was launched in Ghana. Rwanda has operated a similar service since 2016.