Unmanned aerial vehicles to improve medical...

In the News

Muhas don is new IHI board member

Prof. Kaaya. Ifakara Health Institute (IHI) Board of Governors (BOG) has appointed Prof. Sylvia Kaaya member of the IHI Board of Trustees (BOT) effective Wednesday January 10, 2018. The appointment …

Marcel steps down from IHI boards

Prof. Marcel Tanner has stepped down as Ifakara Health Institute (IHI) member of the Board of Trustees (BOT) and Board of Governors (BOG) effective Wednesday January 10, 2018. The Former …

Recent Projects

Development of a new tool for malaria mosquito surveillance to improve vector control

Malaria transmission is influenced not only by vector abundance, but as well by demographic traits such as vector species and age structure, as these influence the intensity by which the …

Demonstrating complete disruption of residual malaria transmission by eliminating Anopheles funestus mosquitoes from rural Tanzanian villages

In rural south-eastern Tanzania, where malaria prevalence has reduced by >60% since 2000, low-to-moderate transmission still persists despite very high coverage with long-lasting insecticidal bednets. Like in most residual transmission …

Emergency aerial delivery of blood and life-saving medicines to mothers in rural Tanzania for less than $10: the stock autonomous unmanned aerial delivery system

Unmanned Aerial System for medical delivery  is a new distribution system that will improve rural communities’ access to emergency medical care using aerial vehicles. We believe that this system will save thousands of lives, and we are committed to launching this system very soon through collaboration with the existing system i.s MSD and Tanzania Safe Blood Bank through MOH. The goal of this partnership is to supplement the existing ground distribution system with aerial vehicles that make rapid deliveries in response to medical emergencies. IHI has proposed extending its current rabies and and maternal health surveillance projects to pilot the system. From a regional warehouse in Dodoma, the UAV project could provide rapid, on- demand deliveries of EMP anywhere within a radius of up to 75 km. The potential Service Area totals over 17,500 km2, and would include a majority of the health facilities that are served by the regional warehouse.

The UAV project will save lives by efficiently extending the cold chain while minimizing dependence on unreliable infrastructure. Many health facilities in Tanzania do not have reliable access to a wide array of cold chain dependent EMP, including: PRBC, Antivenoms, rabies vaccine, and HRIG. These products are all expensive and demand is relatively infrequent, so it is not economical for many health facilities to stock them. However when these products are needed in an emergency, there is no way to quickly get them to patients through existing distribution systems, leading to a large number of preventable deaths. The speed and range of aerial vehicles solves this problem, allowing health facilities to place orders via mobile phone and receive delivery within 1 hour. The Stork system provides a scalable solution for the distribution of lifesaving EMP.  The UAV project is designed to a high standard of safety and reliability. The system operates out of an intermodal container converted to serve as both Distribution Centre.

If you spend a day at a health facility you will quickly learn that, life can be measured in a number of variables. The health workers constantly have to making decisions, tough once one must add, to and not do, that have an impact on the outcome of the our lives. These decisions are made even more challenging, with lack of resources – medical products. This is even more apparent in remote areas. Today, even with governments efforts to put a health facility in every village, stocking these facilities with all the necessary medical products is a challenge. A lot of work has been done with different partners to ensure these facilities are stocked, but due to infrastructural reasons such as cold rooms, some the medical products can not be stocked. Shortage of stock add to the remoteness of these facilities can pose as life threatening situation especially if the survival likelihood is a time based. And here is where the UAV project comes in. Shortage of stock add to the remoteness of these facilities can pose as life threatening situation especially if the survival likelihood is a time based.

Lead Scientists:

Godfrey Mbaruku

Zachary Mtema


University of Glasgow
Zipline Inc
John Snow Inc


Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Human Development Innovation Fund (HDIF)

Projects Location

© Ifakara Health Institute (IHI), 2016