When Unicef Australia contacted us earlier this year to try and encourage applications for a drone delivery project, DRONELIFE was happy to help. It’s a project that showcases the very best of drone technology – providing critical healthcare to communities without good transportation infrastructure, in a low-cost and low-environmental impact way.
The country of Vanuatu is a stunning landscape – but the island country in the Pacific, an archipelago of 83 islands that covers 1,600 kilometres, has airfields and established roads on only about one-third of the inhabited islands. The landscape “creates considerable logistical challenges to reach, engage with and support remote communities,” says Unicef.
In order to provide vaccinations to the children of Vanuatu, midwives travel over challenging terrain by foot, carrying the vaccines in insulated bags. With no refridgeration available, the vaccines must be administered immediately upon arrival.
Drones are an obvious choice to solve the problem. Proven successful on the African continent, drone delivery of medical supplies is a reliable and inexpensive way to provide delivery services without road infrastructure. After receiving over 20 bids for the project, the Vanuatu government has awarded two contracts to “Swoop Aero Pty Ltd of Melbourne, which will cover vaccine delivery to health facilities on Epi and the Shepherd Islands as well as Erromango Island,” says Unicef. “Wingcopter Holding GmbH & Co. KG of Darmstadt, Germany, was awarded the third contract to deliver vaccines to facilities on Pentecost Island.”
“The first phase of the drone trials will take place during the week of 3-7 December when these two drone companies will test the viability of delivering vaccines to inaccessible areas.”
“UNICEF is proud to partner with the Vanuatu Government in such an innovative initiative to trial drones for delivering a reliable supply of vaccines to children living in remote communities,” said UNICEF Pacific Representative, Sheldon Yett.
“The challenges of reaching children in the remote islands of Vanuatu are immense, nurses often walk several hours to deliver vaccines to health clinics in these communities,” he added. “Every child in the world has the right to lifesaving vaccines and this technology is a step towards reaching those children most at risk.”