A 2 Hour Trip Now Takes 13 Minutes: UAVAid’s Medical Drone Delivery in Sierra Leone

UAVAid drone deliveryUK Drone Specialist UAVaid Launches First Medical Drone Delivery Service in Sierra Leone

by DRONELIFE Staff Writer Ian M. Crosby

On November 19th, the very first medical delivery by drone in Sierra Leone was completed as part of a collaboration between the Sierra Leone Directorate of Science Technology & Innovation (DSTI) and UK based drone specialist UAVaid, with support from their VTOL technical partner SWOOP.

Carried out as part of the Medical Drone Delivery Project (MDDP) to improve access to medicines in remote parts of Sierra Leone, one of the most impoverished countries in the world, the delivery was conducted to test and demonstrate the use-case of the MDDP at the Mabang Community Health Post in Sierra Leone’s Moyamba District. The project received funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in partnership with The Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHS), and Crown Agents.

The inaugural flight from Rotifunk village to Mabang MCHP was completed in a mere 13 minutes, a significant improvement over what typically takes 2 hours via vehicle. The event was witnessed by dignitaries and ministers, including Sierra Leone CIO Dr.Sengeh, who explained the role of innovation and technology in improving access to medicines.  The flight also assembled officials from The Ministry of Health and agencies such as the National Medical Supplies Agency, Ministry of Basic and Senior Education, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Fisheries, UNICEF and other development partners and community stakeholders.

MDDP Project-Lead David Manley explained that the project would initially focus on improving deliveries to 250 Community Health Centres (CHCs) and hospitals across Sierra Leone, with plans to significantly improve access to medicines for communities in remote areas of the country. “Specifically, in addition to contributing to the reduction of maternal-related deaths, the use of drones presents the possibility of numerous cross-sectoral use-cases and fosters informed decision-making at the highest levels of government,” Manley added.

“We are extremely proud to be partnering with the government of Sierra Leone on such an important project and helping to improve the healthcare systems of the nation,” said Daniel Ronen, co-founder of UAVaid. “The use of drones helps overcome the numerous transport and data gathering challenges inherent in operating in such complex contexts.”

UAVaid was handpicked as the preferred drone supplier after a rigorous and transparent selection process that evaluated more than 30 international companies.

Read more about medical drone delivery, SWOOP Aero in Africa, SWOOP Aero’s Kite drone, and medical drone delivery innovation.

Ian attended Dominican University of California, where he received a BA in English in 2019. With a lifelong passion for writing and storytelling and a keen interest in technology, he is now contributing to DroneLife as a staff writer.