By Ushang Ewa
Weeks after disclosing its intention to deploy drones for the supply of drugs and medical essentials to hard-to-reach areas (HTRAs), the Cross River State Government has signed a memorandum of understanding with drone delivery company Zipline.
The State has over 100 HTRAs whose designation, as the name implies, stems from difficult terrains to lack of access roads and waterways.
Founded in 2014, Zipline is an American medical product delivery company headquartered in South San Francisco, California that designs, manufactures, and operates delivery drones. It currently operates distribution centers in Rwanda, Ghana, and the US.
And, during the MoU signing ceremony at the Governor’s Office in Calabar on Monday, the Governor, Ben Ayade averred that, “in 90 days, we will start the delivery of essential drugs to hard to reach areas facilitated by drone delivery systems.”
Assuring Zipline officials of necessary support to carry out their assignment, Mr. Ayade said: “I want to thank the entire team, I want to thank you for your commitment to this course and we are here to provide you all the necessary support to see that you start on a strong footing.”
The Governor expressed optimism that the deal will aid in the sustainability of the state owned pharmaceutical company, Calapharm, when it goes operational.
“When our pharmaceutical company starts running, it will be a major producer of most of these drugs and we believe that your expertise will really be needed around that area since your delivery time is just about 30 minutes. We have to have them across the three Senatorial districts to guarantee that from the point of dispatch to the point of delivery, we should be able to do 30minutes per package”, Ayade quipped.
Zipline’s Senior Vice President, Daniel Marfo during the presentation of the drone said the the company was “most pleased” with Mr. Ayade’s vision, “of ensuring that Cross River State leapfrogs the tradition and the norms and by taking a step to the future.”
Earlier, the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Betta Edu, described the drone delivery system as a game changer “in ensuring that medical supplies, drugs, vaccines can be delivered to health centers in real time and in the shortest possible time so that people can get help when they need it.”
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