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Drones for Health in Malawi

VillageReach has partnered with stakeholders at local, regional and global levels since 2015 to explore the use of drones to improve the availability of health products compared to ground transportation.




Drones for Health


Drones for Health




Since 2016, VillageReach has been supporting the Ministry of Health of Malawi and its local partners such as UNICEF to test the feasibility and cost implications of using drones to transport lab samples, blood, vaccines and medicines to address maternal health emergencies and other diseases. In May 2021, VillageReach began working with Swoop Aero to integrate drones into the national health supply chain.




How it

Our plan is to to expand drone flights in 105 + hard-to-reach health facilities in 20 health districts, covering the entire Southern and Northern regions of Malawi.

Each drone can travel up to 130 km carrying 3 kg (6.6 lb) /5212 cm3, averaging more than 100 km/hour.

In addition to routine monthly vaccine deliveries, drones are being used for on-demand deliveries and vaccination campaigns as well pick-ups of laboratory samples of many infectious diseases and health facility reports.



Report  |  2023

Lessons learned in the transportation of healthcare products by drones

Report  |  2022

UAV Project: The Use of Drones in Transporting Vaccines From the Factory to the Patient

Fact Sheet  |  2022

Leveraging the Integrated Medical Drone Delivery System for COVID-19 Response in Malawi

Fact Sheet  |  2020

Drones for Health: Boosting Access to Lifesaving Products

Research  |  2020

Insights Before Flights: How Community Perceptions Can Make or Break Medical Drone Deliveries

Research  |  2020

Costing commodity delivery for obstetric emergencies in Malawi

Tool  |  2019

Malawi Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) Toolkit

Research  |  2019

Bi-directional drones to strengthen healthcare provision: experiences and lessons from Madagascar, Malawi and Senegal

Presentation  |  2018

Stakeholder Awareness and Perception Assessment as a Prerequisite in Drone Flight Tests

Report  |  2017

Costs Associated with the Use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for Transportation of Laboratory Samples in Malawi

Program Impact

Phase 2 Drone Program Results*



    • Malawi Ministry of Health
    • National & District Health Offices , and Health Facilities
    • Department of Civil Aviation – leads the Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) Technical Working Group (TWG)

Technical Partners

  • Swoop Aero
  • Community and traditional leaders
  • Community members


  • Crown Family Philanthropies
  • Focusing Philanthropy
  • UPS Foundation, UPS Healthcare

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