Siemens Healthineers, a German medical device company to collaborate with German drone manufacturer and service provider Wingcopter to pilot an integrated drone delivery solution for healthcare facilities throughout Africa; 2-way delivery system transporting blood samples, vaccines, and pharmaceuticals to improve access to sample analysis, accelerate diagnosis and allow faster treatment for rural communities.
Siemens Healthineers Middle East, Southern & Eastern Africa and Wingcopter GmbH have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to develop and roll out an integrated drone delivery solution to transport various laboratory diagnostics materials as well as other medical supplies in Africa. The combination of Siemens Healthineers’ Laboratory Diagnostics testing capabilities and Wingcopter’s drone delivery services will provide improved diagnostics and faster treatment. The solution will adopt the latest in digital technology provided by Siemens Healthineers and Wingcopter from highly automated drone delivery to Laboratory Information Systems which will accurately track and report results directly to the patients.
Ole Maloy, Managing Director of Siemens Healthineers Middle East, Southern & Eastern Africa, said, “At Siemens Healthineers, we are committed to providing access to care for everyone. Our partnership with Wingcopter will look to bridge the existing gaps in healthcare infrastructure, providing equitable and affordable access to diagnostic testing and medical supplies.”
The utilization of Wingcopter’s delivery drones interconnected with Siemens Healthineers’ laboratory diagnostics facilities will allow for quick and automated 2-way delivery of samples, medicine and other medical products. The battery-powered drones will be operated by Wingcopter, covering a range of up to 75 kilometers while maintaining the cold chain at all times. These sustainable and efficient drone delivery networks will allow for the centralization of sample testing and medical consumables distribution, resulting in improved access to diagnosis, faster turnaround time, increased efficiency and reduction in costs.
Tom Plümmer, CEO and Co-founder of Wingcopter GmbH comments, “We are convinced that we have found the perfect partner for our bold ambitions to improve and save the lives of millions of people on the African continent and beyond. Partnering with Siemens Healthineers will bring us a big step closer to the goal we are working tirelessly towards: to make a real social impact worldwide for those who need it most through fast, reliable and sustainable drone delivery networks in the sky.”
Roughly half of the world’s population still lack access to essential health services such as timely diagnostic services, according to a report from the World Bank and WHO. While accessibility for diagnostic testing will increase, the drone delivery solution will also have a positive impact on the UN Sustainable Development Goals, from access to health, to potential reductions in carbon footprint and the risk of road accidents, to capacity building on drone operations. Wingcopter intends to train and upskill local young people, creating jobs and perspectives in the fast-growing drone industry. In doing so, Wingcopter is following the company’s approach in Malawi, where operations are run by an all-local, majority-female crew.
The exact time and place of the first deployment of drone-based lab sample deliveries will be announced in due time