A fantastic opportunity for drone operators and service providers to become part of a new initiative to deliver vaccines to remote areas in the Vanuatu archipelago has become available through humanitarian aid organisation UNICEF.
The people of the Republic of Vanuatu, which consists of 65 inhabited islands, are often unable to access medical services easily.
Only 20 of the 65 inhabited islands have functional airfields and established roads – and those only connecting major towns and villages at that.
Roads in general are often washed away due to flooding and extreme weather , and the other islands are only accessible by boat.
This means that access to and distribution of medical supplies such as vaccines are often at the mercy of a variety of conditions, making logistics expensive and unreliable.
In addition, temperature-sensitive vaccines risk degrading should a cold chain suffer disruption – leaving unimmunised children at risk of disease and death.
“UNICEF’s Innovation Unit is constantly striving to use new technology to address very serious problems and reach the most vulnerable and isolated children in all sorts of environments around the world,” said Felicity Wever, Director of Programs, UNICEF Australia.
To mitigate these risks to their nation’s health, the Vanuatu Ministry of Health (MoH) has reached out to UNICEF to assist in the tendering of a contract to explore the viability of transportation of vaccines and medical supplies using Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) from main health facilities to dispensaries, aid post, and mobile vaccination teams.
Drone delivery of life-saving vaccines has the potential to be an absolute game changer, not only for helping people who live in remote and extremely inaccessible locations, but in addressing consequent disparities in access to health services,” Wever said.
The successful applicant would be required to provide a reliable and fast method to deliver the vaccines and other supplies by drone, whilst maintaining a cargo temperature of between 2 and 8 Celsius degrees, ensuring the supplies are received in optimum condition.
By testing the feasibility of unmanned aerial methods of medical supply deliveries, both on a technical and economic level, the M0H hopes to include drones as a last-mile resource as part of their existing Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI).
Three contracted drone service providers are being sought, one each to service the Pentecost, Epi & Shephedrs, and Erromago islands.
For more information or to apply to the tender, please visit Unicef Stories. Tender submission deadlines has now been extended until June 29, 2018.