Centre Warns Gov’t Not to Substitute Medical Supplies Delivery System With Drones

Zipline drone on a launch pad at operations center in Muhanda, Rwanda. (photo: James Akena/Reuters/Newscom)

Accra, Ghana, December 6, 2018//-Members of the Africa Centre for Health Policy (ACeHP) have warned Ghana’s government not to substitute medical supplies delivery system in the country with drones.

According to them, substituting the medical supplies delivery system with drone technology would expose the country to cyber attacks, espionages, among others.

The Executive Director of ACeHP, Ahmed Farhan who gave the warning in a press statement issued in Accra, maintained: “All events are recorded and corrupt drone users may exploit recorded information of their customers”.

“With this, we may just be putting our medical details out to the work. Drones are also liable to hackers who can take control of the drone’s network and main control system without the knowledge of the operator”, he added.

His warning follows the government’s attempt to approve a multimillion dollar drone deployment deal with Zipline International Inco, a US firm. But the minority of Members of Parliament (MPs) kicked against the deal saying the country is being short-changed by the firm.

“Accordingly, and in line with section 40(1) (a) of Act 663 as amended, the Board grants approval to the Ministry of Health to engage MESSRS. ZIPLINE INTERNATIONAL INC. for the design, installation and operation of unmanned and vehicles at a cost of USD12,527,000 over a Four-year period”, a letter signed by the PPA Chief Executive, AB Adjei stated.

But Mr Farhan also warning that ethical considerations such as privacy breach have to be looked at. Delivery drones use cameras whilst delivering the materials to target locations, he stated.

Gov’t is simply working to avoid creating…..

Mr Farhan and his team of health experts noted: “The drone contract may mean that, government is simply working to avoid: 1. Creating the needed infrastructure and equipment in rural areas; and 2. Government is not committed to equipping and tooling health facilities”.

“Effectively, this drone contract amounts to outsourcing jobs in a country with trained professionals looking for work, to drones manufacturer/operator foreign company.

In implementing such a policy, we can find better and cost-effective alternatives than what has been proposed. Demonstrably, there are verifiable and cost-effective alternatives that work for us in terms of saving lives.

We should explore all options available and copying from another country whose circumstances differ from ours may expose us to avoidable problems”.

Remove barriers to healthcare

The ACeHP reiterated that the government must remove barriers to healthcare access and make quality healthcare services available to all persons. Removing such barriers means no need for the drones.

However, Mr Farhan said: “The use of drones certainly comes with some advantages which aren’t in contention. We must however begin to make sure the necessary infrastructure are in place, the needed health workforce adequately equipped availability of medical supplies and equipment”.

Alternative to drones

In healthcare delivery, allocative efficiency is key: optimizing the use of limited available resources. In comparison with drones for medical supplies delivery is the Robinson R22 utility helicopter with a loaded weight of 417kg and maximum takeoff weight of 622kg, speed of 188km/h within a range of 386km and can endure for approximately 3hrs and 30mins reserve as compared with less specs of the zipline drones.

It comes at a cheaper price than the drones deal with zipline. It’s worthy of note that the R22 helicopter would require a pilot which would means more employment would be given to more people if more of the R22 is rather procured.

African Eye Report



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