The UPS Foundation has entered into a public-private partnership with California-based robotics company Zipline, as well as the vaccine alliance Gavi, to use drones to deliver life-saving medicines across the world.

It is reported that critical life-saving drugs often get damaged or fail to reach the person who is in urgent need of them.

The current partnership combines the global logistics expertise, cold chain and healthcare delivery from UPS with the national drone delivery network of Zipline, and the experience of Gavi in developing countries focused on saving lives and protecting health.

The UPS Foundation has provided a grant of $800,000 in a bid to support the initial launch of this latest service in Rwanda, Africa.

“The inability to deliver life-saving medicines to the people who need them the most causes millions of preventable deaths each year.”

The UPS Foundation president and UPS chief diversity and inclusion officer Eduardo Martinez said: “Public-private partnerships are the key to solving many of the world’s challenges, with each partner contributing its unique expertise.

“UPS is always exploring innovative ways to enhance humanitarian logistics to help save lives, and we’re proud to partner with Gavi and Zipline as we explore ways to extend the Rwandan government’s innovations at a global scale.”

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Later this year, the Rwandan government will start using Zipline drones that can carry out to 150 deliveries every day.

The drones will be used to provide life-saving blood to 21 transfusing facilities in the western half of the African country.

Zipline CEO Keller Rinaudo said: “The inability to deliver life-saving medicines to the people who need them the most causes millions of preventable deaths each year.

“The work of this partnership will help solve that problem once and for all.

“With the expertise and vision of UPS, Gavi and Zipline, instant drone delivery will allow us to save thousands of lives in a way that was never before possible.”

With the aim to save several lives over the next three years, the national drone network of Rwanda aims to expand the service from the current blood supplies to delivering other critical drugs such as vaccines, and treatments for HIV / AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.