Unmanned aerial vehicles to improve medical...

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Scientists: Target TB interventions on these transmission hotspots

(Dar es Salaam, September 14, 2017). Scientists at Ifakara Health Institute (IHI) have recently adapted a method for identifying tuberculosis (TB) transmission hotpots using a new technique that could revolutionize …

Research Office, Lab Technicians required

IHI is looking for suitably qualified Research Officer and Laboratory Technicians to fill vacant positions in the Laboratory Unit in Bagamoyo. To apply or share, get more details about these …

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This is an evaluation study that IHI is conducting in collaboration with London school of hygiene and tropical medicine. The research takes place in the context of an innovative intervention …

Vaccine Delivery Costing Study

As countries drive towards achieving high and equitable coverage of life-saving vaccines, the availability of sustainable, equitable, and predictable financing for vaccine delivery is essential. Over the last two decades, …

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)

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© Ifakara Health Institute (IHI), 2016