Renowned drone delivery company, Zipline has supported the Cross River State government in delivering over 50,000 doses of regular immunisation vaccines across healthcare institutions in the state.
This represents a big step in the state’s effort at ensuring universal access to important healthcare services in the Cross River’s outlying locations.
The exercise took place within one month of the start of operations in the state.
Zipline’s country manager, Ms. Catherine Odiase, said the company is dedicated to ensuring everyone has access to healthcare anywhere in the world. “In the world today, it is important to expand healthcare access to reach people, no matter where they live.
“Locations should no longer be a barrier to receiving medical care”, said Catherine Odiase. “Our partnership with the Cross River State enables us to use our innovative drones to deliver medical commodities and vaccines to health facilities within 30 minutes of placing an order”, she added.
Vaccine shortages have become a significant challenge at a number of healthcare institutions around the Cross River State due to limited storage facilities.
This is changing, thanks to the bold decision of the Cross River State to partner with Zipline for the use of unmanned drones to access previously inaccessible communities with critical medical products, vaccines, and supplies within a reasonable time frame.
Vaccines including tetanus, polio, hepatitis B, yellow fever, measles, and even Covid-19 immunisations have been sent to health institutions in Cross River State. So far, at least 150 health facilities in nine local government districts have benefitted from this game-changing technology, reaching over 50,000 infants, children, and mothers.
A routine immunisation focal person from Ogoja Maternal Child Hospital, Esther Aju said in an interview, that prior to Zipline’s involvement in the delivery of these essential medicines and vaccines in the area, health officials struggled to receive vaccinations owing to the vast travel distance.
She said that parents had to be, on several occasions, rescheduled for other immunisation days due to shortages in vaccines. The reality was that many babies were missing their critical immunizations, leaving them vulnerable to deadly diseases.
“The thought of innocent children growing up and contracting childhood illnesses due to lack of access to vaccines terrified us as healthcare providers because we frequently struggle to access critical vaccines, causing infant babies to miss their immunisation dates.”
This is one of the underlying elements that motivated the Cross River State to take urgent steps to avert the incident,” she said. “Immunisation has been more convenient and accessible since Zipline began serving our facility; we now get our immunisations within 5-10 minutes after placing our orders”; Esther Aju said.
Zipline’s influence extends beyond vaccination delivery. Following a severe cholera epidemic in the Ikom and Etung LGAs, Zipline stepped up once again, collaborating with the government to combat this deadly illness.
The report from the State Ministry of Health reported 638 suspected cases and 17 deaths in only a few months, leaving communities reeling and seeking assistance. Thanks to their cooperation, almost 6000 residents were reached with important preventative measures.
Under the Water and Sanitation Hygiene (WASH) project, Zipline supported the delivery of Water and Sanitation Hygiene products to affected communities, including Orimekpang in Boki LGA, Effraya, Bendeghe-Ekiem, Abia, Ajasso in Etung LGA, Akparabong, and Okuni in Ikom LGA.
These products ranged from sanitizers, hand washes, water purifiers, disinfectants, oral rehydration salts, drugs like Darrow’s full and half strength, Ciprofloxacin, Metronidazole. Additionally, 304 packages containing medications for treatment and management of cholera have been delivered to 14 facilities in Etung and Ikom.