Zipline, Kisumu County Join Forces to Fight Malaria with Drone Delivery Services


The fight against malaria has received a boost after Zipline, Ministry of Health, and the County Government of Kisumu announced the launch of drone delivery services for blood and vaccines in the Lake Region Economic Bloc (LREB).

This collaboration marks a major milestone in Kenya’s efforts to improve healthcare access and achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

Transporting blood and blood products to where they are needed presents significant challenges due to complex supply chains, short shelf life, and fluctuating demand.

To address these obstacles, Zipline will adopt a centralized stock approach and implement on-demand delivery, ensuring that any health facility within its service radius receives the necessary products within 45 minutes.

Collaborating with the Kenya National Blood Transfusion Services and the Kisumu Regional Blood Transfusion Center, Zipline will commence deliveries in Kisumu and Homa Bay counties before gradually extending its reach to other regions.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the lake endemic zone has the highest malaria prevalence among children aged 6 months to 14 years, 19% compared with the national average of 6% in 2020. This highlights the urgent need for innovative solutions to deliver life-saving medical supplies.

“The launch of drone deliveries for blood and vaccines is a transformative moment for healthcare in Kenya,” said Cabinet Secretary for Health Susan Nakhumicha. “This technology has the potential to revolutionize access to critical medical supplies, particularly in remote areas, and significantly reduce malaria burden.”

In tandem with its blood delivery initiative, Zipline will also undertake the distribution of vaccines, sanctioned by the National Vaccines and Immunization Program (NVIP), to health facilities across the LREB, starting with Kisumu.

The timing of this launch coincides with World Malaria Day, underscoring the significance of the endeavor as LREB counties grapple with malaria prevalence. Zipline’s provision of timely vaccine deliveries is poised to play a pivotal role in curbing malaria mortality rates in the region.

In Kisumu, Zipline’s focus on malaria extends beyond vaccine delivery to encompass the distribution of malaria tests and treatments, aiming to eliminate missed opportunities for testing and treatment.

“We are here to celebrate one of the many milestones coming from our partnership with the County Government of Kisumu to reach the unreachable and enable healthcare access. Today, on World Malaria Day, we have launched the delivery of life-saving blood and vaccines that are critical to curbing the effects of severe malaria”, said Miki Sofer, Zipline Vice President of Health Partnerships.

The launch of drone delivery services aligns with the National and County Government’s efforts to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC). By enhancing access to life-saving interventions, such as blood transfusions and vaccines, this initiative will contribute significantly to the realization of UHC goals.

In a speech read on his behalf by his Deputy Dr Mathews Owili, Kisumu governor Prof. Anyang’ Nyong’o said: “As we strive towards Universal Health Coverage, the government must enter strategic partnerships to ensure that health building blocks and innovative solutions and logistics management of medical supplies will play a vital role.

I commend our partnership with Zipline, which has already made over 6,300 deliveries of life-saving commodities since its inception in February 2023”.

The launch of drone deliveries for blood and vaccines on World Malaria Day is a powerful symbol of Kenya’s commitment to fighting this deadly disease.

With Zipline’s technology and the dedication of the Ministry of Health and county governments, Kenya is well-positioned to make significant strides in malaria control and elimination.

Zipline, which has been operating in Rwanda and Ghana since 2016 and 2019 respectively, launched its commercial deliveries in Kenya in February 2023, serving the Kisumu region, and since then has successfully made over 6,300 commercial deliveries out of its state-of-the-art distribution center in Chemelil.

The launch followed the signing of a partnership agreement with the County Government of Kisumu. The agreement established a Zipline distribution hub in Chemelil, which serves as the base of operations for its unmanned aerial system (UAS) and services, capable of serving health projects across the county and beyond.

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