Sunday, October 10, 2021

Request for Proposals: Drone Delivery of Health Products in the Democratic Republic of Congo

VillageReach is an international, non-profit organization that is transforming the delivery of health care to reach everyone, so that everyone receives the health care they need to thrive. We develop solutions that improve equity and access to primary health care.

This includes ensuring that products are available when and where they are needed and that primary health care services are provided to the most underserved. Radical collaboration with governments, the private sector and other partners strengthens our ability to evolve and sustain these solutions. VillageReach works to improve access to quality health care for 43 million people in sub-Saharan Africa.

VillageReach has extensive experience in the development and management of drone delivery programs, from feasibility studies to large-scale drone delivery operations. In partnership with government and several drone companies, VillageReach currently operates Drones for Health programs in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Malawi, Mozambique, and the Central African Republic.

The Democratic Republic of Congo is located in the heart of Africa and is one of the largest countries on the continent. DRC is made up of 26 provinces that have complex geographies, immense river networks and poor road infrastructure which makes a consistent distribution of health products difficult. In addition, there has been a resurgence of epidemics of vaccine-preventable diseases (measles, yellow fever, cVDPV2), low vaccination coverage (WHO-UNICEF estimate 2017: 81%), and
vaccine stock-outs at all levels (8 stock-outs on average for 2017).

The Ministry of Health (MoH) and the Extended Immunization Program (EPI) are working to improve immunization equity for hard-to-reach populations through the consistent and reliable distribution of immunization products in several provinces. The MoH and EPI, supported by Gavi, and in collaboration with VillageReach, began testing the integration of drones into the health supply chain to support equitable access to immunization products. In 2019, the first phase (Phase 1) of the
Drones for Health (D4H) program began in Equateur province by successfully demonstrating that a complementary drone transport system can lead to faster and more consistent product deliveries.

Stakeholders expressed interest in a rapid scale-up to other health centres and provinces, working towards the ultimate goal of immunizing all children.

From 2020, Phase 2 focused on the “Routine use and validation” of drone transport in Equateur province. The overall goal of Phase 2 is to increase access to essential health products, primarily immunization products, in some of the most remote or inaccessible communities throughout Equateur province. Since Late-December 2020, the drone network has served 29 health facilities, via 14 drone landing sites, with scale-up continuing through 2021. Since then, more than 1000 flights have been completed, transporting over 50,000 vaccine doses, lab samples, medical reports, PPE, and essential medicines.

Building off the success of Phase 1 and Phase 2, the MoH and EPI are interested in expanding the D4H program to two additional provinces in 2022, henceforth referred to as Phase 3. The goal of Phase 3 is to expand D4H to reach an additional 75 hard-to-reach health facilities across Kinshasa and Kongo Central Provinces to increase access to immunization and other health products and to improve the laboratory sample transportation systems through routine drone deliveries.

VillageReach is currently supporting the MoH, EPI and UNICEF to conduct a feasibility study to identify the 75 drone delivery sites, design the drone delivery networks and select a drone provider for the Phase 3 implementation.

Interested parties are invited to apply no later than 23:59 PST on 19 September, 2021 by emailing:

Email: [email protected]

Subject line: DRC RFP – Name of the lead company applying

Find out more here