News @ JSI

Taking to the Sky: Getting Health Care Products to People in Far-Flung Locations Faster

April 26, 2019

Geographic spread and transportation complications make it costly and time-consuming to deliver life-saving health products to the more than 400,000 people who live in Tanzania’s Ukerewe District. The district includes 34 islands in Lake Victoria, so even products that are shipped within the region must travel by truck, boat, and motorcycle to reach health facilities.

This map shows the spread of health centers in Ukerewe District, Tanzania where we are supporting the "Deliver the Future" activities

Increasingly, ministries of health and development partners are looking to the skies to get life-saving medicines to the people who need them, especially those who live in hard-to-reach places. Through the Deliver the Future project, JSI and its local and international partners conducted a study with Tanzania’s Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly, and Children to identify products that could be delivered by unpiloted aerial vehicles (UAVs). Using JSI’s analytical approach and tools, the team selected five categories of health products:

  • Safe blood for transfusion
  • Routine vaccines
  • Products with small and unpredictable demand (such as antivenom medication and rabies vaccines)
  • Essential medicines
  • Blood samples for diagnosis

Deliver the Future Phase 1 test flights in Ukerewe found that UAV reduced transportation time from 1 day to 4 hours. Regular deliveries of these commodities will begin in July 2019. Watch this video to learn more about Deliver the Future’s efforts in Tanzania.

JSI also supports efforts to integrate UAVs into Tanzania’s health supply chain systems through the Lake Victoria Challenge, which was featured in the World Economic Forum website on April 24, 2019.