𝐙𝐢𝐩𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐞 𝐏𝐞𝐫𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐦𝐬 𝐆𝐫𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐝 𝐁𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐂𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐦𝐨𝐧𝐲 𝐅𝐨𝐫 𝐁𝐮𝐢𝐥𝐝𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐨𝐟 𝐃𝐫𝐮𝐠 𝐃𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐛𝐮𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐂𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐢𝐧 𝐂’𝐑𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐫
Members of Ndok Community in Ogoja Local Government Area jubilated on Saturday as Zipline officially performed the ground breaking ceremony for its proposed drug distribution center in Cross River.
The project which is a collaboration between Zipline and Cross River State Government took shape last year after the completion of necessary paperwork.
Information obtained on its official website shows that Zipline was founded to create the first logistics system that serves all humans equally with the aim to solve the world’s most urgent and complex access challenges by leveraging expertise in robotics and autonomy.
Zipline designs, manufactures and operates the world’s largest automated delivery system. It serves tens of millions of people around the world and is making good on the promise of building an equitable and more resilient global supply chain.
From powering Rwanda’s national blood delivery network and Ghana’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution, to providing on-demand home delivery for Walmart and enabling leading healthcare providers to bring care into the home in the United States, Zipline is transforming the way goods move.
Speaking at the event, wife of the state governor, Dr Linda Ayade, who was ably represented by the Commissioner for Health, Dr Betta Edu, said the State has over 426 hard-to-reach communities characterized by challenging topographies such as mountains and rivers which create difficulty for health workers and logistic personnel to get drugs, vaccines, blood and other medical consumables across.
“Imagine living in Ikang community, it takes over 8 hours and you could have a breakdown on the way, communities like Belenge do not even have road were vehicles can go through because is a mountain but people live at the bottom of that mountain and they need to be served, they need the vaccine, they need health care, they need drugs and blood in case of emergency. This is what Zipline is here to do – help transform emergency health care and expand access to critical life-saving medication in the state.
“Partnering with Zipline in 30 minutes or less we believe that we can get blood products, as well as drugs and other commodities down to different health facilities, over 500 in the northern area, and another 500 within 30 minutes. And it is important to note that during a Covid-19 pandemic Zipline would do the big job of helping get vaccines down to the end-users, as quickly as possible”, she said.
The Commissioner, therefore, assured Cross Riverians that the government is going to fund the services because according to her, “it will save lives in their millions, and is going to solve health logistics challenge and cost; and most importantly, it is going to make health care service delivery very efficient and above all achieve universal health coverage and this grant access to everyone in Cross River State.”
While appealing to Ndok community members to see the project as their own and ensure its maximum protection, Dr Edu thanked them for allowing the siting of the Zipline drug distribution center in their locality, which according to her, will benefit them more, especially in the area of job creation and human capacity development.
She concluded by thanking the state governor, Prof. Ben Ayade for providing transformational leadership that lays emphasis on the general wellbeing of Cross Riverians.
Earlier in her remarks, Director General of Cross River State Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Janet Ekpenyong, noted that the Agency was very excited and optimistic that through the project the state would be able to surmount the logistic challenges thereby meeting the health needs of people in various communities across the state.
She also noted that providing services with Zipline would be easier because “the company will use drones to deliver vaccines, blood products, and where people live should not determine whether or not to get access to supplies of vaccines and drugs.”
On her part, the General Manager of Zipline Mrs. Catherine Odiase, said the decision of Cross River State Government to partner with Zipline technology to aid the provision of quality health care for the people will help save lives, decrease waste in the system and increase health care access for millions of people across the state, especially in remote areas.
Thanking Governor Ayade and his wife, Odiase noted that it is only in Cross River that she saw a real demonstration of interest by a first lady supporting the work wholeheartedly.
She expressed the hope that within few months, they would be back for the official commencement of operations.
“Today, no doubt, marks a major milestone in our conversation about integrating technology in creating access to universal health delivery here in the Cross River State. I am indeed happy that this decision is just about being realized with this short but symbolic ceremony.
“I am very confident, Your Excellency, that the decision of this Government to resort to the Zipline technology to aid the provision of quality healthcare for the people of Cross River will help save lives, decrease waste in the system and increase healthcare access for millions of people across the state, most especially remote areas that are difficult to reach.
“Your excellency, we are sincerely grateful to you and of course to the Governor himself and the Honorable Commissioner of Health for the commitment and tireless support you have provided to this ambitious project.
“We have experienced some few delays for the start of the project simply as a result of some preliminary and regulatory processes, which I am happy to note that have largely been resolved. By this, we want to assure you and the good people of Cross River that construction at this site begins almost immediately from this function.
“We are very hopeful that within the next few months, we should all be back here again for the official launch and commencement of operations. From here, we will ensure the delivery of medical commodities, including blood products and COVID-19 vaccines, upon request, to any of the hundreds of health facilities served, and this is expected to be done 24 hours around the clock, rain or shine.
“What this means is that even at midnight, for example, when there is an emergency of say a snake bite and the hospital or clinic has no anti-snake venom in stock, the facility could quickly, through a toll-free number, SMS, WhatsApp or online, call to place an order to be served from the Zipline facility center. Be assured that all deliveries, from our center to the receiving health facility should be completed within a maximum of 40 minutes; a journey that could have taken over three hours travelling by road.
“This particular site, is one of the two that we will be siting for our operations in this state and I can assure you that apart from our core mandate of saving lives, this will also create lots of employment to the indigenes of this state. It is our hope of having a hundred percent local staff to man these operations.
“Your excellency, to avoid a very long speech, let me just go with the usually saying that the sweetness of the pudding is in the eating. Kindly take this as an invitation to come back to this site, when the facility is ready for use, to see how our technology is able to greatly and positively impact the overall healthcare delivery within the state. I have no doubt in my mind that this singular intervention will greatly improve health delivery within the state.
“Your Excellency, we are very excited that you have accepted to do this ground breaking ceremony for us. May I say that this is the very first place we have seen a real demonstration of interest by the First Lady and also accepting to support us break grounds for the start of work. This gives me confidence that we can actually make a real home here in Cross River”, she said.
There were also goodwill messages from WHO, USAID, as they expressed excitement about the project and pledged their support for its success.
Present at the ceremony were the clan head of Ndok, Ntol Clement Ashaba; Special Adviser to the Governor on Health, Dr David Ushie; Director of Public Health, Dr Iwara Iwara, among others.
REACH CALABARGIST VIA; http://wa.me//2348146824361