Mr Augustine Okutu, the Community Health Officer in Ijiraga Community Primary Healthcare Centre, Yala Local Government Area (LGA), says the use of drone is bridging vaccination gap in rural Cross River.
He made this known on Monday during a visit by journalists to the facility to ascertain the effectiveness of drones, powered by Zipline, a drone delivery company, to enhance provision of vaccines, drugs and other medical consumables in rural areas.
Our correspondent reports that Zipline is one of the world’s largest autonomous delivery system, specialising in on-demand drone delivery.
It partnered the government of Cross River with its facility in Nduk in Ogoja Local Government Area to support the government in delivering health consumables to rural centres.
Okutu said “the dramatic way in which the drones drop the vaccines and other health items is a source of advert for us; the people believe the vaccines and drugs dropping from the sky are more sophisticated.
“Now, there is an increased demand for immunisation and vaccination, with the vaccines that dropped from the drones and not the ones from our cold chain stores.”
He further said that the drone technology saved the cost of moving out of the health facility to look for drugs and other medical needs.
He added that “people believe that the items delivered by the drones are from trusted sources,” thereby eliminating the acquisition of fake or expired drugs.
Similarly, Mr Raphael Obok, the Focal Person for the Primary Healthcare Centre in Nfuma, Yala Local Government Area, said the
response for vaccination had increased as people now come on their own to be vaccinated.
He said “we no longer travel to get or store drugs and vaccines but from the comfort of our facility, we just call or text Zipline and in a matter of minutes, we get what we need through drone delivery.
“The drone technology has come as a fulfilment of all the parameters of primary healthcare which include: affordability, availability and accessibility.”
Earlier in an interview with Dr Henry Ayuk, the Cross River Commissioner for Health, said “what Zipline is doing in the state is commendable and a huge support to healthcare delivery.
“The state is consolidating a plan to ensure another Zipline facility in Akamkpa Local Government Area that will service the Southern Senatorial District of the state.”