For the first time ever, a commercial drone has been used to deliver an important vaccine to a remote island.
Unicef arranged for the drone to carry the vaccine 40km (25 miles) across rugged mountains in Vanuatu, a small Pacific island. The vaccine was given by local nurse Miriam Nampil to 13 children and five pregnant women.
While it’s not the first time that a drone has been used to deliver medicine to remote areas, it is a first for a country to reach out to a commercial drone company to help with vaccine delivery.
Approximately 20% of all children in Vanuatu do not receive vaccines because getting them there is too difficult.
Following the successful trial flight at the beginning of December, Unicef now hopes that drones will play an important role in facilitating remote vaccination programmes going forward.
“Today's small flight by drone is a big leap for global health,” said Unicef executive director Henrietta Fore.
“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.”
Vaccines have to be kept cool, which presents several challenges when transporting them long distances. If undertaken on foot, the journey would have taken several hours. By drone, however, with the vaccine stored in a styrofoam box with ice packs and a temperature logger to monitor conditions, the delivery took just 25 minutes.
Follow this link to Twitter to see some footage of the drone in action: https://twitter.com/UNICEFPacific/status/1070603704414298112