SEATTLE, Washington — The U.S. remained the largest single-country donor in response to global efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, committing more than $900 million to more than 120 countries. Included in the recipient list are several countries in Africa, which has more than 5.6 million cases. While African countries reported a slower spread of the coronavirus, the number of confirmed cases is rising in some areas, such as Ghana’s major cities. Ghana and Rwanda dependably demonstrated their support for international peacekeeping. U.S. investments provided Ghana and Rwanda with life-saving aid, through drones delivering U.S. medical aid to the countries, making positive progress against the pandemic.
The Need for Alternate Aid Delivery in East Africa
As the demand for medical supplies is increasing globally, the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs and Congress committed to giving medical equipment and training to Ghana and Rwanda, among other African countries. The U.S. government departments worked to discover the most efficient and optimal ways to deliver aid, which is no easy task.
To strengthen Ghana and Rwanda’s domestic response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the appropriate supplies need to go to numerous rural areas that can be difficult to reach. Some people living in rural areas have no access to main roads, meaning delivering supplies via car or truck would take hours and prove problematic. The start-up company Zipline, however, provided an innovative solution with drones delivering U.S. medical aid to rural areas in Africa almost instantly.
Zipline Drones Delivering US Medical Aid
Zipline’s drones enable supplies to meet healthcare needs across Rwanda and Ghana. Zipline works with Rwandan hospitals and commits to have their drones deliver to 2,500 hospitals and health facilities in Rwanda and Ghana. Some field hospitals were U.S. provided and established by the United Nations.
Zipline drones make 600 deliveries in Ghana a day to cover the 2,000 health facilities that serve 12 million people, allowing Ghana to have the highest testing rate in Africa for COVID-19. Zipline’s recent expansion allowed vital U.S. aid to reach rural areas of East Africa in a matter of minutes. Zipline drones are sending testing samples and personal protective equipment (PPE) to specific areas facing possible outbreaks, helping to contain the spread of COVID-19. With widespread testing, Rwanda and Ghana can trace the virus and send PPE to communities that need them most.
Zipline is an example of a company that surmounts logistical boundaries with new technology. Doctors in Rwanda and Ghana can even use an app created by Zipline to place orders and track drones delivering U.S. medical aid. The drones’ flight times range from 15 to 30 minutes, traveling through intense wind, rain and dust. Doctors can now not only efficiently respond to outbreaks but also find where the most recent outbreaks occur.
Hope in Innovation and Global Cooperation
Creative companies like Zipline that enable U.S. aid to be better utilized, keep the U.S. in great standing with Rwanda and Ghana. The speed, accessibility and lack of human contact that drone-delivery allows from Zipline and companies like it, bring hope to communities around the globe, in areas where receiving adequate medical supplies have always been a challenge. Geographic logistics should not prevent communities from receiving vital aid. A global response must meet the widescale problem of the COVID-19 pandemic, and drones delivering U.S. medical aid to hard-to-reach places in Africa exemplifies how forward-thinking businesses combined with U.S. assistance, can provide innovative solutions to transnational challenges.
– Mia McKnight
Photo: Wikimedia Commons