THE supply chain of drugs has recorded an historic landmark in the country as Mwanza Region will from next month use drones to supply drugs in not-easily-accessible areas, particularly in Ukerewe Island.
A team of officials from the World Bank and Mwanza regional authorities recently witnessed the first launch of the initiative dubbed Lake Victoria Drone Expo & Challenge (LVC) which will make it easier and more convenient for the Medical Stores Department (MSD) to supply drug kits to the island.
The MSD Director General, Mr Laurian Rugambwa Bwanakunu, said the supply of drugs and medical equipment was very expensive but using drones would not only make it less expensive but will facilitate timely delivery of drugs in hard-toreach areas, starting with Ukerewe.
He said the drones would be more helpful in delivering drugs mostly required in emergency cases, including vaccinations, poisons resulting from bites and blood. “Lately, the supply of drugs cost more than 3bn/- per year; therefore the pilot implementation of LVC in Mwanza Region would produce new statistics of the costs involved in the supply chain for the near future,” he said.
He said more than 100 such facilities with the capacity to carry not more than six kilogrammes are expected by next year for Mwanza, Mbeya, Dodoma and Tanga, adding that as the technology expanded, drones with more capacity would be procured.
Speaking at the event, the Mwanza Regional Commissioner, Mr John Mongela, said the region, which is home to approximately 2.8 million people and one of the most populous regions in the country, hosts tens of islands which would benefit from the innovation.
He said Lake Victoria Challengewould bring together international robotics and drone industries, as well as health and transport experts, to demonstrate and learn, as well as help the region deal with its unique challenges while making the most of its opportunities.
“We are particularly constrained in getting medical supplies to the islands and we see this drone initiative as a great opportunity to come together with partners to see how it can help us in finding solutions to such challenges,” he said.
LVC now entering in Tanzania will be the first of its kind in Africa and will showcase the advances in unmanned aerial systems that can make a significant difference in hard to reach communities and rural areas.
Mr Ansgar Kadura, an expert from the Germanybased Wing Copter, the manufacturer of the drones, said at least four Tanzanians had been trained to operate the drones, promising more technical assistances as more drones came in.
Apart from technical assistance, Mr Kadura, who is the company’s co- founder and Chief Operating Officer, said the company was considering selling drones at reduced prices down from the current 50,000 US dollars a piece.