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Medics in Vanuatu transport vaccines via drone

Published on 20/12/18 at 10:37am

Medics in the remote archipelago of Vanuatu have begun to deliver vaccines using a commercial drone. The logistical success marks the first time a country has used a commercial drone company to transport vaccines.

Children’s charity UNICEF this week used a commercial drone to transport vaccines and medical supplies via air. The vaccines were transported 25 miles across rugged terrain in order to reach remote areas of the South Pacific island country. Around 20% of children in Vanuatu do not receive vaccines due to logistical difficulties.

“Today's small flight by drone is a big leap for global health,” UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore said. “With the world still struggling to immunize the hardest to reach children, drone technologies can be a game changer for bridging that last mile to reach every child.”

Making the journey in just 25 minutes, the drone improved significantly on the usual journey time of two hours which can otherwise be undertaken only by boat or on foot. The supplies were used to vaccinate 13 children and five pregnant women.

“It's extremely hard to carry ice boxes to keep the vaccines cool while walking across rivers, mountains, through the rain, across rocky ledges,” local nurse Miriam Nampil said.

“As the journey is often long and difficult, I can only go there once a month to vaccinate children. But now, with these drones, we can hope to reach many more children in the remotest areas of the island.”

Louis Goss

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