Medics will place orders by text message when supplies run dry, said GAVI chief executive Seth Berkley.
Drones will then fly in from four distribution centres, hover over health posts and drop deliveries using tiny parachutes.
“The idea is that these four distribution centres can make up to 600 on-demand delivery flights a day,” Berkley told reporters in a telephone briefing. “And that can expand up to 2,000 (a day) over time.”
The aim is for deliveries to arrive within 30 minutes, Berkley added, meaning emergency treatments such anti-snake venom or rabies shots could arrive in time to save lives.
The project – led by Zipline, a California-based robotics company – is designed to deliver to around 2,000 health facilities serving 12 million people across the west African country.
It is backed by the non-profits GAVI and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as several companies including the parcel delivery firm UPS and the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.
Up to 12 routine and emergency vaccines will be available, including shots for yellow fever, polio, measles, meningitis and tetanus, as well as 148 blood products and other critical medicines. The drones fly autonomously and can carry up to 1.8 kilograms of cargo, GAVI said.
Zipline said a similar but smaller project had made more than 13,000 deliveries of blood products since it was launched in Rwanda in 2016 – about a third of them for emergency life-saving treatment. (Reporting by Kate Kelland Editing by Andrew Heavens)
In other news...
South Africa is in a very real battle. A political fight where terms such as truth and democracy can seem more of a suggestion as opposed to a necessity.
On one side of the battle are those openly willing to undermine the sovereignty of a democratic society, completely disregarding the weight and power of the oaths declared when they took office. If their mission was to decrease society’s trust in government - mission accomplished.
And on the other side are those who believe in the ethos of a country whose constitution was once declared the most progressive in the world. The hope that truth, justice and accountability in politics, business and society is not simply fairy tale dust sprinkled in great electoral speeches; but rather a cause that needs to be intentionally acted upon every day.
However, it would be an offensive oversight not to acknowledge that right there on the front lines, alongside whistleblowers and civil society, stand the journalists. Armed with only their determination to inform society and defend the truth, caught in the crossfire of shots fired from both sides.
If you believe in supporting the cause and the work of Daily Maverick then take your position on the battleground and sign up to Maverick Insider today.
For whatever amount you choose, you can support Daily Maverick and it only takes a minute.
"Everything is flux" ~ Heraclitus