Swoop Aero en-route to DR Congo to support government in the fight against COVID-19, Ebola and other priority diseases

September 25th 2020, Melbourne, Australia: Swoop Aero, the drone-powered health logistics company, is returning to Africa amid to support the government in the fight against COVID-19, Ebola and other priority diseases in Equateur, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Together with the DRC Ministry of Health and nonprofit partner, VillageReach, the team will start community sensitisation and training activities, in preparation for the significant expansion of medical drone operations in the Equateur province.

The drone network will deliver medical products to 25 health centres, and indirectly to an additional 45 health facilities, focusing in particular on childhood vaccine deliveries and on emergency transport of laboratory samples for COVID-19 and Ebola, with the aim of improving access to critical medical commodities and test results.

In July-August 2019, the government of DRC, in partnership with VillageReach and Swoop Aero, commenced demonstration flights of vaccine deliveries in Equateur province as part of the next-generation supply chain program. With 25 kg of immunisation products, medicines and medical supplies delivered for rural health centres in just 5 days, and 50 flights covering 2000 km in the air, the drones enabled vaccinations for 470 children in remote areas. This confirmed the potential for integrating drones into the public health supply chain in Equateur and serving under-reached communities with vaccines and essential medicines. The success led to planning these longer-term operations.

Expansion was due to start in March 2020 with funding from the Gates Foundation, Patrick J.McGovern Foundation, Gavi the Vaccine Alliance, and Crown Family Philanthropies Foundation. That same month the Australian Federal Government imposed an international travel ban on all Australians to mitigate the transmission rates of the virus within Australia, delaying further operations in the region. The complete shutdown of national borders and refraining from international travel to curb the anticipated surge of COVID-19 transmission rates severely impacted our timelines.

Following the successful acquisition of international travel exemption waivers for the Australian Swoop Aero team, will finally see Eric Peck and his team travel to DRC to assist with the roll-out of training activities in Equateur province under the leadership of the national, provincial and local health authorities. Drone flights are due to start after mid-October 2020.

The lockdown in Victoria has significantly impacted the capacity of organisations’ to run everyday operations in an effort to combat COVID19, despite their intention and ability to support the global pandemic response efforts.

Eric Peck, CEO and co-founder of Swoop Aero, said:

“In times such as these, it is important to lead from the front. The COVID-19 pandemic has been an extremely difficult period for everyone and has magnified the importance of quality health systems and primary healthcare. Since its founding, Swoop Aero has sought to transform global health for the better and we have not let the pandemic quash our mission to assist the DRC Ministry of Health to curb the remergent spike in infectious diseases and strengthen the local health supply chain through the integration of sustainable medical drone logistic”. It has been a long and protracted road to get to this point, but it is all worth it to see the impact and value our service generates in countries like DRC,

Eric Peck, CEO and Co-founder of Swoop Aero

Josh Tepper, CTO and co-founder of Swoop Aero said:

“The service we are deploying is a full platform, to provide the complete technology infrastructure to enable drone logistics. The platform is designed and manufactured in Melbourne and is one of a kind in the world. We have proven it is working in the most challenging places in the world. In DRC, large parts of the network will solely rely on satellite only communications, due to lack of mobile phone and internet communications in rural remote areas.”

Josh Tepper, Chief technology Officer and Co-founder of Swoop Aero

Before starting operations, Swoop Aero and VillageReach have worked closely over the past 14 months to develop an integrated training and educational platform, which will be used to equip provincial and local healthcare professionals with the tools necessary to operate and optimise the medical drone logistics network.

Dr. Archimede Makaya, DRC Drone Program Manager (VillageReach) affirmed,

“The community remains a fundamental pillar of program design. As we work with the Ministry of Health on community sensitization, we want to ensure that the community is well prepared and educated about the technology, and how it can help improve the health system before we begin flights. With the arrival of the Swoop Aero team, we are very excited to start providing two-way transport of health products.”

Dr. Archimede Makaya, DRC Drone Program Manager, VillageReach

-ENDS-

About Swoop Aero 

Swoop Aero transforms the way the world moves essential supplies and  enables  access to healthcare for millions across the world. Founded in 2017, this Australian born and bred company is bringing healthcare logistics into the 21st century by deploying two-way drone networks capable of delivering essential medical supplies to urban, rural and remote areas globally. Their managed air transport service provides access to the skies to ensure sustainable, safe and reliable provision of essential health supplies. Unmanned vehicles are at the heart of the next significant shift in supply chain logistics. From the UN to USAid and the Gates Foundation, they are trusted to create value by sustainably transforming health supply chains. 

About VillageReach

VillageReach transforms health care delivery to reach everyone, so that each person has the health care needed to thrive. We develop solutions that improve equity and access to primary health care. This includes making sure products are available when and where they are needed and primary health care services are delivered to the most under-reached. Radical collaboration with governments, the private sector and other partners strengthen our ability to scale and sustain these solution.

To learn more about Swoop Aero: https://swoop.aero/
Contact: Head of Commercial – Sabrina Ravail sabrina@swoop.aero

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