By Frank Ulom
A Community Health Officer, Mr Augustine Okutu has revealed that the increase in the number of vaccinated people in rural communities in Cross River State is as a result of drone technology.
Okutu made this revelation on Monday while conducting journalists around the Ijiraga Community Primary Healthcare Centre in Yala Local Government Area (LGA) of the state where he works.
At the facility, the Health Practitioner disclosed to journalists the effectiveness of the use of drones powered by Zipline to enhance the provision of vaccines, drugs and other medical consumables in rural areas.
Recall that Zipline, one of the world’s largest autonomous delivery systems, specialising in on-demand drone delivery, had partnered with the Cross River State Government to establish its facility in Ndok in Ogoja LGA, to support the government in delivering on its mandate of providing access to healthcare to rural dwellers.
Collaborating, the Community Health Officer said the drone system has helped them to reduce their preaching of the importance of vaccination and immunisation in rural areas.
“The dramatic way in which the drones drop the vaccines from the sky is a source of advert for us; the people believe the vaccines and drugs dropping from the sky are more sophisticated.
“Now, there is an increased demand for immunisation and vaccination with the vaccines that dropped from the drones and not the ones from our cold chain stores,” Okutu said.
Speaking further, Okutu said the drone technology has saved them the cost of moving out of the health facility to look for drugs and other medical needs.
He said the people believe that the items delivered by the drones were from trusted sources, noting that the acquisition of fake or expired drugs was eliminated.
Similarly, Mr Raphael Obok, Focal Person for the Primary Healthcare Centre in Nfuma, Yala LGA said the response for vaccination has increased as people now come on their own to be vaccinated.
“We no longer travel to get or store drugs and vaccines but from the comfort of our facility we just call or text Zipline and in a matter of minutes, we get what we need through a drone delivery.
“The drone technology has come as a fulfilment of all the parameters of primary healthcare which include, affordability, availability and accessibility,” he said.
Earlier, in an interview with Dr Henry Ayuk, Cross River’s Commissioner for Health, he said what Zipline was doing in the state was commendable and a fulcrum of healthcare delivery.
He added that the state was consolidating plans to ensure that there was another Zipline facility in Akamkpa Local Government Area that would service the Southern Senatorial District of the state.