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Drone medical deliveries can harm health sector – AceHP

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Members of the Africa Centre for Health Policy (ACeHP) have warned Ghana’s government not to substitute the medical supplies delivery system in the country with drones.

According to them, doing so would expose the country to cyber-attacks, espionage, among others.

The Executive Director of ACeHP, Ahmed Farhan, who gave the warning in a press statement issued in Accra, said: “All events are recorded and corrupt drone users may exploit recorded information of their customers”.

“With this, we may just be putting our medical details out to the world. Drones are also liable to hackers who can take control of the drones’ network and main control system without the knowledge of the operator”, he added.

His warning follows the government’s attempt to approve a multi-million dollar drone deployment deal with Zipline International Inco., a U.S. firm. But the Minority in Ghana’s parliament has kicked against the deal saying the country is being short-changed by the firm.

Part of the contract between the government of Ghana and Zipline reads, "… In line with section 40(1) (a) of Act 663 as amended, the Board grants approval to the Ministry of Health to engage MESSRS. ZIPLINE INTERNATIONAL INC. for the design, installation and operation of unmanned and vehicles at a cost of USD12,527,000 over a four-year period", a letter signed by the PPA Chief Executive, A.B. Adjei stated.

But Mr Farhan and his team of health experts noted that the drone contract may mean that the government is simply avoiding creating the needed infrastructure and providing the needed equipment to health posts in rural areas.

"Effectively, this drone contract amounts to outsourcing jobs in a country with trained professionals looking for work, to drones manufacturer/operator foreign company.

"In implementing such a policy, we can find better and cost-effective alternatives than what has been proposed. Demonstrably, there are verifiable and cost-effective alternatives that work for us in terms of saving lives.

"We should explore all options available", the group advised, warning that: "copying from another country whose circumstances differ from ours may expose us to avoidable problems".

Remove barriers to healthcare

ACeHP reiterated that the government must remove barriers to healthcare access and make quality healthcare services available to all persons.

Removing such barriers means no need for the drones, the group noted.

Mr Farhan said: "The use of drones certainly comes with some advantages which aren't in contention. We must, however, begin to make sure the necessary infrastructure is in place, the needed health workforce, adequate medical supplies and equipment".

Source: African Eye

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