UPS to use drones to deliver blood for transfusions

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The UPS Foundation has formed a partnership with Zipline, a California-based robotics company, and Gavi, the vaccine alliance, to explore using drones to transform the way medicines like blood and vaccines are delivered across the world.

The foundation has awarded an $800,000 grant to support the initial launch of this initiative in Rwanda.

Rwanda Drone Network 1Health products spoil or fail to reach the individuals who urgently need them. This public-private partnership combines UPS’s expertise in expertise, cold chain and healthcare delivery, with Zipline’s drone delivery network and Gavi’s experience in developing countries.

Starting later this year, the Rwandan government will begin using Zipline drones, which can make up to 150 deliveries per day of blood to 21 transfusing facilities in the western half of the country. According to the WHO, Africa has the highest rate in the world of maternal death due to postpartum haemorrhaging, which makes access to blood transfusions critically important.

“Public-private partnerships are the key to solving many of the world’s challenges, with each partner contributing its unique expertise,” said Eduardo Martinez, president of The UPS Foundation and chief diversity and inclusion officer at UPS.

“UPS is always exploring innovative ways to enhance humanitarian logistics to help save lives, and we’re proud to partner with Gavi and Zipline as we explore ways to extend the Rwandan government’s innovations at a global scale.”

The initial focus is on delivery of blood supplies, but the plan is to expand the initiative to include vaccines, treatments for HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and other medicines.

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