Emergency Delivery with Laurean Bwanakunu of MSD

Although the Lake Victoria region provides its communities with trade, biodiversity and tourism, it can also present health issues. Waterborne diseases put lives at risk, meaning access to medical supplies is vital.

Medical Stores Department, or MSD, is an organization that delivers essential medicines, medical supplies and reagents to health facilities across the country. However, in Tanzania the medical supply chain is not without its challenges.

“We are like DHL or UPS for medicine, delivering door-to-door to every village, every dispensary, every health center. We have about 7,309 health facilities across the country, but one of our main obstacles is access. These are heavy logistics,” says Laurean Bwanakunu, MSD’s Director General.

“Some of the islands are very difficult to reach, with only one boat a day traveling there, and some of the roads aren’t passable,” Bwanakunu continued.

MSD relies on rail, lorries and a range cruiser to deliver vital medicine to rural communities, but the infrastructure deficit means that despite its best efforts, delivery coverage can never quite be total.

Drones could help MSD reach its goal of 100% coverage, helping medicine reach challenging destinations. Supplementing existing road, rail and sea delivery, drones are able to accelerate delivery time and reduce costs. When time is of the essence, as is often the case when it comes to delivering anti-venom or blood transfusions, the adoption of this emerging technology could potentially save thousands of lives.

The good news is that a pilot is already underway with a partnership between Mwanza’s Regional Commissioner Office, the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology, the World Bank, Wingcopter, and MSD.

“Through this partnership, MSD is moving medicine from Mwanza to Ukerewe. When we finish this pilot we’ll gain incredible learnings that can be applied to help other hard-to-reach districts,” Bwanakunu concluded.

In the Lake Victoria Challenge EMERGENCY DELIVERY competition category, participants will be competing to deliver a package over 20km in the shortest time possible. Find out more with our video.

If you’d like to read more about MSD, head over to their website.