The first child to be immunized using vaccines was a one-month-old baby in Vanuatu, supplied by commercial drone to the unreachable island where she lives with her family.
The delivery was made by an Australian company, Swoop Aero, after Vanuatu’s Government contracted the Melbourne-based firm to transport life-saving vaccines to vulnerable children in remote parts of the Pacific nation.
The drone was flown nearly 40 kilometers from Dillon’s Bay, on the west side of Erromango Island, to reach the one-month-old girl named Joy Nowai in remote Cook’s Bay in the east.
The baby was one of 13 children and five pregnant women in the community which does not possess a health clinic or electricity who was vaccinated by a local nurse.
Comprising of more than 80 islands spread over some 1,600 kilometers, delivering medical services to people across Vanuatu is no easy task.
Only one third of inhabited islands in the archipelago have set roads and air strips.
Nearly 20 per cent of children in the country does not get proper childhood vaccines as a result, based on the figures provided by UNICEF, which is supporting the project.
It plans to enlarge the trials, which permits vaccines to hit their target place not in days, in a matter of hours— which is vital as the medicines should be kept cold to stay viable.
The nurse Miriam Nampil said, “It is ultimately hard to bring ice boxes to maintain the vaccines cool while walking through rivers, mountains, through the rain, across rocky ledges”
“I have relied on boats, that frequently get delayed due to bad weather. As travel is frequently long and complicated, I can only go there once a month to vaccinate children.”
Henrietta Fore, the UNICEF executive director stated, “With the world still fighting to immunize the hardest to reach children, drone technologies can act as a game changer for bridging that last mile to reach every child”.
Watch a video of Vaccine Delivery using Drones in Vanuatu: