President Nana Akufo-Addo has defended his government’s decision to rely on drones in a $12 million deal with Fly Zipline, to supply blood and other essential medicines, especially to remote parts of the country.
Speaking at a media encounter at the Jubilee House today [Wednesday], President Nana Akufo-Addo argued that the drones delivery system will save Ghanaian lives and reduce wastage in the health sector.
The President described the drone delivery deal as the “world’s largest and most advanced medical drone delivery network”
“We are also in the process of launching the world’s largest and most advanced medical drone delivery network. The four (4) distribution centres, from where the drones will be operating will stock one hundred and forty-eight lifesaving and essential medical supplies and not only blood”
Speaking on the controversial drone delivery deal with Zipline, the President also took a swipe at the NDC and said he prefers drones flying to deliver essential medicines to Ghanaians than investing in guinea fowls that allegedly flew to Burkina Faso under John Mahama’s tenure as President.
“I prefer drones flying to deliver essential medicines to our people than an investment in guinea fowls that allegedly fly off to Burkina Faso without any trace”.
The President also reiterated the earlier comments by his Vice-President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia on the financing of the drone delivery deal.
According to the President, the financing of the deal will come from corporate social responsibility from the private sector.
“This programme is not going to run on the public budget. Corporate social responsibility from the private sector will pay for the service” the President said.
Suspend medical drone service – GMA to Gov’t
The Ghana Medical Association earlier this month called on the government to, as a matter of urgency, suspend the implementation of the medical drone service agreement it has entered into with Zipline International Incorporated.
According to the Association, the deal in its current form does not fit into the country’s existing healthcare policy.
The GMA, in a statement signed by its president, Dr. Frank Ankobea, said the government must consult broadly on the drone programme before going ahead to implement it.
Parliament approves deal for delivery of medical supplies via drones
Parliament passed the Services agreement between Flyzipline by a vote of 102-58.
This was after the First Deputy Speaker’s decision to have the agreement approved by a voice vote, was challenged by the Minority Chief Whip, Muntaka Mubarak.
The service agreement has been the subject of tussle in the house with the Minority describing it as a misplaced priority while government believes it is a step in the right direction.
This was after the House deferred the approval on two occasions due to disagreements by the minority side. This was to allow for some regulatory checks to be completed.
Meanwhile, the Minority has said even though the agreement has been passed, they will not relent on their fight against it.
Minority Spokesperson on Finance, Ato Forson, said the Minority side was denied the opportunity to “debate the amendment as proposed by the Chairman of the Health Committee.”
Drone Delivery will save Ghana millions – Zipline
Head of System Integration at Zipline Ghana, Daniel Marfo, also defended the relevance of the drone delivery system proposed by the Ghana Health Service and the Government of Ghana, adding that the deal will save the country millions of Ghana cedis.
He describes Zipline Ghana’s drone technology as an “emergency service until normal service is restored”
According to him, the drone technology will save millions of lives.
Speaking in an interview on Citi TV’s Face to Face program, Mr. Marfo disclosed that the drone delivery technology after it’s implementation would have saved the country a lot of money which would have been wasted.
Mr. Marfo explained that there have been instances where Government procured in excess some medical supplies to treat a particular condition or outbreak, after which all of such supplies get expired after the condition or the outbreak is controlled.