Where We Work  |  Program

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.

Dec 13, 2022   |   News

Swoop Aero awarded USD$1.5m USAID DIV funding to scale Malawi operations

Swoop Aero has successfully secured USD$1.5 million in funding from USAID Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) to scale existing drone operations in Malawi nationally. The USAID DIV funding will allow for the first randomized control trial of drones transport to be jointly managed by VillageReach...

Read News

Nov 15, 2022   |   News

Pharma.Aero Shares The Results Of The UAV Project

Pharma.Aero has published the White Paper of the latest UAV Project phase that explored the use of drones (UAVs) and its potential as part of the Life Science and Medtech logistic chain, thus interconnecting the traditional and modern airfreight worlds.

Read News

Aug 2, 2022   |   News

VillageReach to Extend Its Operations in Southern Region

A global health innovator, VillageReach which aims at a strengthening medical supply chain seeks to scale up its operations in other three districts of the southern region namely Chiradzulu, Mwanza and Neno.

Read News

May 5, 2022   |   News

Vaccines’ drone delivery significantly shortens transit time in remote areas in Malawi, Africa

The use of drones has the potential to shorten vaccination transit times in difficult-to-reach places from six hours to 20 minutes.

Read News

May 3, 2022   |   News

UPS, VillageReach, Swoop Aero collaborate to deliver vaccines in Africa

UPS, VillageReach, and Swoop Aero are working together to distribute vaccines further and quicker than ever before.

Read News

Mar 25, 2021   |   Blog Post

Drones for Health Deliver: Fundraising Campaign with Focusing Philanthropy Takes Flight

Today, VillageReach and Focusing Philanthropy launched a campaign to raise $2 million. The Drones for Health Deliver campaign aims to increase equitable access to health products and diagnostics for 700,000 people in hard-to-reach areas in Malawi and Mozambique via drone technology.

Read Blog Post

Jun 25, 2019   |   Blog Post

Drones for Health — Exchanging ideas to advance this frontier technology

Originally posted on Medium.com Drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are an emerging technology that hold a lot of promise to improve access to health care for the most underserved populations in hard-to-reach areas. Additionally, it can provide time savings in critical situations in...

Read Blog Post

Mar 31, 2019   |   Blog Post

Innovation According to Plan: Using Drones to Deliver Health Products to the Last Mile

I’ve been fortunate to work with pioneering government leaders across sub-Saharan Africa, people who are leading their countries to identify and introduce solutions for pressing health challenges. There are many reasons that some new ideas take off while others fizzle.  But when it comes...

Read Blog Post

Apr 14, 2018   |   Press Release

The Malawi Ministry of Health notifies the public of humanitarian drone flights beginning on April 18, 2018

(14th April 2018) – NOTICE OF HUMANITARIAN DRONE FLIGHTS IN DOWA AND LILONGWE BEGINNING 18TH APRIL 2018 The general public is hereby notified that a humanitarian drone (also called a Remote Pilot Aircraft) will be flown in Lilongwe and Dowa Districts over the period...

Read Press Release


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.

People inspecting drone in field.

(Photo Credit: Henry Sempangi Sanyulye)

How It Works

  • 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 Drones for Health Program

Drone icon
6,067 flights in 383 days
Route icon
1,828 flight hours

174,747 km flown

Vaccine icon
51,031 vaccine doses delivered

1,583+ kg of health products delivered

5,357 lab samples collected

Hospital icon
55 health facilities served in 5 districts
Mother icon
136,281+ people served

*from 30 Dec 2020 – 30 April 2023



  • 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

Related Global Impact

See the latest updates from our work to improve access to quality healthcare in the world’s most underserved communities.

Drones for Health in Mozambique

View details

UAV Supply Chain Modeling

View details

UAV Sample Transport

View details

Drones for Health in the DRC

View details


Support Our Mission

Your tax deductible contribution helps to increase health care availability to reach the most under-reached.

Stay Informed

By providing your email address you agree to receive periodic email news from VillageReach.