Using drone technology to improve medical supply chain logistics in rural Kenya
Even though affordable and high-quality healthcare is a top priority for the Government of Kenya, it remains out of reach for millions of Kenyans. Access to healthcare is further constrained by broader development challenges such as poor road infrastructure, security concerns and erratic power supply. This situation is particularly amplified in remote parts of Kenya such as the rural communities located around the Lake Victoria Basin.
These communities fall within Kisumu County, one of the poorest counties in Kenya. Coincidentally, Kisumu County hosts one of nine regional depots owned and managed by the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (KEMSA). KEMSA is a state-owned health logistics service company with a core mandate to procure, warehouse and distribute healthcare commodities via regional depots to public sector health facilities across Kenya. Despite hosting one of KEMSA’s regional depots, health facilities across Kisumu continue to experience frequent shortages of essential medical supplies.
Drones or autonomous airship technology have shown promise as a means of bridging healthcare access gaps and addressing last-mile delivery challenges and infrastructural inadequacies in resource-constrained settings. Specifically, drones can help extend the reach of the medical supply chain to communities and health centres that are in remote or inaccessible areas. The aim of this project is to assess the feasibility of using autonomous drones to improve supply chain logistics for selected medical products (such as COVID-19 vaccines, rapid antigen tests and blood products) in Kisumu County. At the end of the project, it is expected that there will be a better understanding of the feasibility, acceptability and cost-implications of deploying drones to bridge medical supply chain gaps in rural Kenya.