The unending debate on whether Ghana is ready for a drone technology for emergency medical supplies is even heating up some more a day after Parliament sanctioned the US$12.5 million deal.
Ghana Medial Association (GMA) has, for instance, outrightly denied ever meeting with government and agreeing with the implementation of the policy, as some elements in government claimed.
On the contrary, GMA has called for the suspension of the implementation, saying that there are more serious issues in the health sector, hence government should terminate the US$12.5 million contract with Fly Zipline Ghana.
NGOs in Health have also put their weight behind GMA, calling for the suspension of the policy because they wonder how it will be managed effectively. Some individual health experts have done same.
IMANI Africa, has also called for a review of the deal, questioning the kind of boost flying blood and other medical supplies will bring to the country’s health sector.
Prior to GMA, IMANI and the rest, the Minority in Parliament consistently criticized the agreement, describing it as “a con”. They claimed the contract is costing the country more than necessary. In fact the Minority in Parliament have nicknamed the drones “Bawudrones”, after the Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia.
At some point, even a blogger wrote and said some group calling itself the Witches and Wizards Association of Ghana had threatened to intercept the drones and drink the human blood mid air. I want to believe that was just a joke.
But government has hinged its position partially on the pedigree of the supplier, Fly Zipline Ghana, a robotics company based in Silicon Valley, which has a success story in Rwanda. It works with the Rwandan health sector to deliver blood and essential medical supplies through the use of drones to inaccessible areas.
In Rwanda, doctors can place their request for medical supplies through a text message and the supplies are dispatched from the hub within minutes. The system is working great in Rwanda and has even gained global recognition, which was what tickled Ghana’s fancy.
Apart from medical supplies, government has also said that the drones would have some additional benefits such as delivering parcels to people’s homes and offices, particularly now that digital addresses are gradually coming on stream.
Again, in other jurisdictions, drones are used to save lives during natural disasters without risking the safety of rescue teams. The argument is that if Ghana had drones during the June 3, 2015 incident, the drones would have been used to locate and rescue people faster.
Drones have also been found useful in inspecting the structural integrity of buildings remotely for maintenance purposes. That way, humans do not have to risk entering the building to inspect it.
So the critics of the drones deal have their points, but the proponents also have theirs.
So the matter is now down to a BettyBlueMenz perspective. In the country where I come from, we love to engage in skewed and blinding political debate over everything. The benefit of drones could be vast, and yet the critics have focused mainly on the medical supplies bit without touching on the other benefits that much.
Again, in my country, one of our major problems is with maintenance. We get so excited about new things, but taking good care of them becomes a problem. I think having drones in the country is not bad, but we should focus on maintaining them and also maintaining every other thing needed to make the drones serve us well.
People may argue that there are lots of important issues to be addressed and drones should not be a priority; but as I have stated above, it comes with so many benefits and as a country we should take our minds there.
We also know about the power situation in the country. I want to believe sufficient provision will be made for power to run the drones, because we do not want to spend US$12.5 million to acquire drone and when there is an emergency somewhere and the drones are needed, we give excuses that the drones have not been powered.
I also want to do want to hear that the drones could not get some supplies to it destination because of poor weather condition or some cyber criminals have intercepted the drones and stolen the items being transported. As for the witches, I wonder if they can intercept the drones, because, I Betty Mensah, will be praying everyday to stop every witchcraft activity against the drones.
I wish government all the best in this drone policy.
I rest my case…