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Where We Work  |  Program

Drones for Health in the DRC

Routine drone delivery operations reach remote communities in the Équateur province, ensuring fast turnaround transport of lifesaving vaccines, medicines, and other health products.

Country

Democratic Republic of Congo

Solution

Drones for Health

Topic

Drones for Health

Status

Active

Background

In late 2018 VillageReach began working with the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance to investigate the use of drones for vaccine delivery in Equateur province. Equateur is a large province in DRC, with many remote and hard-to-reach health facilities that have no mobile or internet access.  Between unpaved roads, dense forests, the Congo River and many other bodies of water, getting life-saving health products to many communities is a constant challenge. After successfully conducting drone test flights in 2019 with Swoop Aero and about the use of drones for transport of vaccines and other medical products, in January 2021 the Equateur province health department launched routine drone deliveries with Swoop Aero and VillageReach. 

How it
Works

As of 30 December 2021, a fleet of several drones is flying following pre-approved routes over 37,000 sq km 5 days a week.

 

 

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.

In addition to the ongoing Phase 2 program in Equateur province, VillageReach has received funding from UNICEF (USAID) for Ebola preparedness in Equateur, focusing on lab sample pick-ups by drones from remote communities. VillageReach also received funding from UNICEF (Gavi) to work with the national EPI in conducting a feasibility study and designing a drone network in two provinces: Kongo Central and Kinshasa.

Links

Resources

Fact Sheet  |  2020

Drones for Health: Boosting Access to Lifesaving Products

Fact Sheet  |  2020

Demonstrating the Potential of Drones for Vaccine Transport to Remote Communities

Research  |  2020

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

Fact Sheet  |  2020

How to select a drone service provider

Presentation  |  2020

Integrating Drones into the Health Supply Chain in DR Congo

Presentation  |  2019

Integrating Drones into Immunization Supply Chains: DRC Case Study

Report  |  2019

Introducing Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for Vaccine Transport in the DRC

Program Impact

Phase 2 Equateur Drone Program Results*

Partners

Government

  • The DRC Ministry of Health and the National Drones for Health Commission,
  • The Governor of Equateur and the Provincial Drones Working Group
  • DRC Civil Aviation Authority
  • Ministry of Interior and Security

Technical Partners

  • Swoop Aero

Donors

  • Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance
  • Crown Family Philanthropies
  • Cartier Philanthropy
  • Patrick J. McGovern Foundation
  • UNICEF

Previous Partners

Government

  • None

Technical Partners

  • None

Donors

  • Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

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