Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia has said, “Never again should we allow ourselves to be divided by politics when discussing the health of our people”, warning: “When a snake is about to bite you, it does not ask whether you are NPP or NDC or CPP”.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 5th and 6th Distribution Centres for Zipline Ghana at Anum and Kete Krachi on Monday, 21 March 2022, Dr Bawumia said had the government been deterred by earlier claims by the biggest opposition party that the medical drone service could be misused for voyeurism purposes, the several lives that have been saved as a result of the existence of the distribution centres, would have perished.
“When the government, led by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, satisfied itself with the knowledge behind Zipline’s innovation and how it will improve access to vital medical supplies, we became interested and more eager to ensure that the good people of Ghana benefit from this innovation”.
“When I look at the tremendous success since 2019, I can only thank God for the foresight and the bold decision to move forward with this (Zipline) project”, Dr Bawumia said.
“I am sure, by now, even the ardent critics of the innovation have come to terms with the benefits of this project”, he noted.
In January 2019, the National Women’s Organiser of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Dr Hannah Bissiw, urged men in rural communities to be wary of the medical drones since they could be used to take pictures of their naked wives in their open-air bathrooms.
“Those drones have videos in them. So, I am telling Nana Addo and Bawumia that the drones they are bringing, which can take pictures, and has someone sitting behind a computer and directing it in villages in the name of supplying blood, we know CHPS compounds do not offer blood. That thing can take pictures and they can take pictures. So, when it passes by your village and your bathroom, it will take pictures. So, the men listening to me, those drones can take pictures of your naked wives when they are bathing because in the villages our bathrooms are not covered. So, they can take pictures of your naked breasts and other things. We know those drones can take pictures but we don’t want the drones, we want those vans that John Mahama was using to supply blood, those vans were effective and helpful,” Dr Bissiw said at Asamankese in the Eastern Region during a party organised for Constituency Women Organisers and widows in the region by the Regional Women’s Organiser of the NDC, Shirley Naana Osei Ampem.
Speaking at Nyagbo Sroe in the Afadjato South District of the Volta Region, however, Dr Bawumia said the unhealthy criticism that accompanied the government’s decision to implement the drone medical delivery service to address emergencies and hard-to-reach communities, including claims that the drones would take pictures of people in their bathrooms, could have led to deaths of thousands of Ghanaians including expectant mothers, victims of snakebite and from COVID-19.
“From Omenako to Mpanya, Vobsi to Sefwi Wiawso, and now Anum to Kete Krachi; Zipline drones have been almost everywhere, flying over hills and valleys to bring healthcare closer to the people”.
“Since Zipline started the drone deliveries, the challenges of travelling for vaccine inoculation and the delay in vaccine delivery have been resolved”.
“I have been informed that as of the end of February 2022, Zipline has made more than two million deliveries of life-saving medical products, saving hundreds of thousands of lives and limbs”.
“Aside from these, other medical supplies like blood, anti-snake venom and PPEs have been transported with ease to government health facilities within the period”, the Vice-President said.
“Also importantly, over 300 high-quality jobs have been created, and I am happy to say that all the distribution centres are manned 100% by Ghanaians. “I am also informed that Ghanaian staff are at the forefront of Zipline expansion to Nigeria, Kenya, and Côte d’Ivoire”, Dr Bawumia added.
The two new centres at Anum and Kete Krachi will serve all health facilities within the Afram Plains areas and many other hard-to-reach communities in almost all parts of Volta Region, most parts of the Eastern Region, and parts of the Oti and Savanna regions, ensuring almost total national coverage.
Dr Bawumia thanked the leadership and staff of the Ministry of Health, Ghana Health Service and other key stakeholders in the health delivery sector for their continued dedication and patriotism, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ghana, he emphasised, is eternally grateful.
The Country Manager of Zipline Ghana, Naa Adorkor Yawson, disclosed that after three years of service to over 2,300 health facilities in 147 districts in 13 regions, the company would, later this year, begin home delivery services, to make speedy access to essential medications even easier.