Bayelsa State Government has signed an agreement with a consortium comprising Sterling Bank, Zipline, Health Spaces, and DrugStoc for the Bayelsa Health Supply Chain Transformation Project (BHSCTP).
The project, estimated at $5million to be provided by the firms, is expected to provide a 21st century supply system and other supply chains using drone technology in the distribution of cost-effective pharmaceuticals in the state.
Speaking during the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signing in Yenagoa, Governor Douye Diri charged the stakeholders in the project to ensure that it comes on stream to boost the distribution of pharmaceuticals, particularly in remote communities in the state.
He identified access to healthcare as a major challenge and urged the consortium to deploy the technology to create access for residents in far-flung communities.
He said, “We would like to see the drones fly to Koluama, Korokorosei, and Egbemo-Angalabiri and to every nook and cranny of the state to solve the issue of access to pharmaceutical products. Communities in nearby states can also benefit from this project when it is fully operational.”
Diri, who acknowledged that technology was fast taking over in all spheres of life, said it is now being deployed in improving security, the electoral system, and healthcare delivery.
The Commissioner for Health, Pabara Newton-Igwele, signed on behalf of the state government while the Senior Vice President (Africa) of Zipline, Daniel Marfo, signed on behalf of the consortium.
In his remarks, Newton-Igwele said the project would go a long way in enhancing the delivery of emergency healthcare products in the localities.
According to him, the initiative would also provide job opportunities for Bayelsans, especially in the areas of drone operations and drug store management.
Also speaking, the state coordinator, World Health Organization (WHO), Leonard Ughei Ghele, lauded the state government on its developmental strides and described the project as trailblazing in the state and the country at large.
He noted that as a partner in the Bayelsa health sector, the project would in no small measure achieve various aspects of health system strengthening programmes as envisaged in the state health summit blueprint.
He added that soon a full-fledged resident consultant for the state would be assigned to ensure that the programme succeeds.
In his speech, the Zipline Senior Vice President (Africa), Daniel Marfo, explained that Zipline and the other two firms were coming together to provide a supply chain that is adaptive, resilient and serves the health needs of the people in the area of health product distribution.
He said the project is a $5million investment by the consortium members to improve access to healthcare, adding that products could be provided within 30 minutes upon request.