Call for proposals: Delivery of health products by drone in the Democratic Republic of the Congo – sUAS News

VillageReach is an international nonprofit that transforms healthcare delivery to reach everyone, so everyone gets the healthcare they need to thrive. We develop solutions that improve equity and access to primary health care.

This includes ensuring that commodities are available when and where they are needed and that primary health care services are provided to the most underserved. Extensive collaboration with governments, the private sector and other partners strengthens our ability to scale and sustain these solutions. VillageReach works to improve access to quality health care for 43 million people in sub-Saharan Africa.

VillageReach has extensive experience in developing and managing drone delivery programs, from feasibility studies to large-scale drone delivery operations. In partnership with the government and several drone companies, VillageReach currently operates health drone programs in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Malawi, Mozambique and the Central African Republic.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is located in the heart of Africa and is one of the largest countries on the continent. The DRC is made up of 26 provinces that have complex geographies, huge river networks, and poor road infrastructure that makes consistent distribution of health products difficult. In addition, there has been an upsurge in outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases (measles, yellow fever, cVDPV2), low vaccination coverage (WHO-UNICEF estimate 2017: 81%) and
vaccine stockouts at all levels (8 stockouts on average for 2017).

The Ministry of Health (MoH) and the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) are working to improve immunization equity for hard-to-reach populations through consistent and reliable distribution of immunization products across multiple provinces. The Ministry of Health and the EPI, supported by Gavi and in collaboration with VillageReach, have begun testing the integration of drones into the health supply chain to support equitable access to immunization products. In 2019, the first phase (Phase 1) of the
The Drones for Health (D4H) program began in Equateur Province by successfully demonstrating that a complementary drone transport system can lead to faster and more consistent product deliveries.

Stakeholders have expressed interest in rapid expansion to other health centers and provinces, working towards the ultimate goal of vaccinating all children.

Starting in 2020, Phase 2 focused on the “routine use and validation” of drone transport in Equateur Province. The overall objective of Phase 2 is to increase access to essential health products, primarily immunization products, in some of the most remote or inaccessible communities in Equateur Province. Since the end of December 2020, the drone network has served 29 healthcare facilities, via 14 drone landing sites, with continued scale-up through 2021. Since then, over 1,000 flights have been performed, carrying more than 50,000 doses of vaccines, laboratory samples, reports, PPE and essential medicines.

Building on the success of Phases 1 and 2, the Ministry of Health and EPI wish to expand the D4H program to two additional provinces in 2022, hereafter referred to as Phase 3. The objective of Phase 3 is to expand D4H to reach 75 additional provinces. hard-to-reach health facilities in Kinshasa and Kongo Central provinces to increase access to vaccination and other health commodities and to improve transport systems for laboratory specimens through routine deliveries by drones.

VillageReach is currently supporting the Ministry of Health, EPI and UNICEF to conduct a feasibility study to identify the 75 drone delivery sites, design the drone delivery networks and select a drone supplier for the implementation of stage 3.

Interested persons are invited to apply no later than 11:59 PM PST on September 19, 2021 by sending an e-mail:

E-mail: [email protected]

Subject line: DRC RFP – Name of main applicant company

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Maria J. Book