A partnership between the UK aid and Gavi – the Vaccine Alliance – is supporting Ghana to use Zipline drones to collect COVID-19 test samples from across the country.
A statement issued by the British High Commission, in Accra, which was copied to the Ghana News Agency, in Accra, said this world-leading technology had also increased the country’s ability to deliver immunisation kits and vaccines for diseases, such as yellow fever, polio, diphtheria and measles.
Already Coronavirus test samples have been collected from more than 1,000 health centres in rural areas across Ghana and taken to laboratories in Accra and Kumasi.
The drones also return Coronavirus tests results and deliver medical equipment and supplies.
“Together, the UK government and Gavi, alongside the Gates Foundation and the delivery company UPS Foundation, have funded Zipline’s drone stations,” the statement said.
“Often in hard-to-reach areas, these stations allow health experts to safely collect test samples and deliver these to one of Ghana’s testing laboratories”.
The transportation of samples and test results in just hours helps to limit the spread of the disease and accelerates case management.
The mode of transportation also limits the exposure of health workers to the virus.
The statement quoted Mr Iain Walker, British High Commissioner to Ghana saying, “It is only through global collaboration that we will overcome this global pandemic. The partnership between UK aid and Gavi is an example of this collaboration in action.
“By supporting Gavi, UK aid in Ghana is helping to save lives by tracking Coronavirus, getting medical equipment to those most in need and ensuring that children across the country have access to vaccines for the diseases that still needlessly devastate communities.
“I am proud that the UK Government’s recent pledge of the equivalent of £330 million a year for the next five years will support Gavi’s lifesaving work across the world, protecting lives and allowing developing countries to focus more resources on tackling Coronavirus.”
For his part, Cyril Nogier, Gavi Senior Country Manager for Ghana, said: “The government of Ghana has shown incredible commitment to immunisation for many years, working hard to ensure no child goes without protection against deadly, preventable diseases.
“Right now, Ghana is a leader in its use of drone technology, which has already helped thousands of children in remote areas get access to vaccines”.
The statement said on Thursday, June 4, the UK Government would host Global Vaccine Summit towards supporting GAVI to mobilise the requisite funds to deliver vaccines against diseases such as measles, polio and cholera around the world and to ensure global access to all new Coronavirus vaccines.
The UK Government has already pledged up to £764 million ($935.6 million) to combat the outbreak of the Coronavirus globally, and in April it pledged an equivalent to £330 million a year, over the next five years to Gavi.
For Africa, the UK has pledged to invest up to £20 million in the African Union’s new ‘African Union Covid-19 Response Fund’ to tackle the Coronavirus and save lives.
Gavi helps vaccinate almost half the world’s children against deadly and debilitating infectious diseases.
As part of its mission to reduce poverty and protect the world against the threat of epidemics, Gavi has helped vaccinate more than 760 million children in the world’s poorest countries, preventing more than 13 million deaths.
“By improving access to new and under-used vaccines for millions of the most vulnerable children, the Vaccine Alliance is transforming the lives of individuals, helping to boost the economies of low-income countries and making the world safer for everyone,” it said.
UK aid is the financial support Britain gives to developing countries to promote sustainable development, eliminate world poverty and help people whose lives have been destroyed by disaster or conflict.