Vanuatu uses drones to deliver vaccines to remote island

Vanuatu

(BBC) – A baby on a small Pacific island has become the first person given a vaccine delivered by a commercial drone.

Unicef arranged for the drone to be flown some 40km (25 miles) across rugged mountains in Vanuatu (Republic Of Vanuata) that otherwise take hours to cross.

About 20% of children in Vanuatu don’t receive important vaccinations because the supply is too difficult.

The UN children’s organisation hopes that drone delivery will in future be of vital importance in remote areas.

“Today’s small flight by drone is a big leap for global health,” Unicef executive director Henrietta Fore said.

“With the world still struggling to immunize the hardest to reach children, drone technologies can be a game changer for bridging that last mile to reach every child.”

While drones have been used before to deliver medicine, Unicef says this was the first time globally that a country had contracted a commercial drone company to get vaccines to remote areas.

Two companies competed for the project on Vanuatu, and it was Australia’s Swoop Aero that won the bid after successful trials earlier this month.