UNICEF and the Vanuatu Government have commissioned a trial to test drone capability for vaccine delivery across the island nation, which will take place on Efate Island from August 21-25, 2017.
Vanuatu is an archipelago of 83 islands separated over 1,600km, 65 of which are inhabited. Many islands are only accessed by boat and mobile vaccination teams are frequently required to walk to communities carrying all equipment to undertake the vaccination for children and communities in remote areas. The climate, lack of infrastructure and topography make this an arduous task.
Vanuatu faces considerable vaccine supply chain logistical and access challenges and its health facilities are constantly faced with a frequent lack of stock. The trial aims to assess technologies and proven safe operators that can help reduce the vaccine supply chain disruption and enhance service delivery, without requiring massive investment in infrastructure and transport. It will also provide the opportunity to explore and understand the wider application and potential of UAVs in the Pacific region long term.