Caption: Keller Rinaudo of Zipline, a company contracted by the Rwandan government to deliver medical products using drones. Picture: Sihle Mlambo
Caption: Keller Rinaudo of Zipline, a company contracted by the Rwandan government to deliver medical products using drones. Picture: Sihle Mlambo
Caption: Keller Rinaudo of Zipline, a company contracted by the Rwandan government to deliver medical products using drones. Picture: Sihle Mlambo
Caption: Keller Rinaudo of Zipline, a company contracted by the Rwandan government to deliver medical products using drones. Picture: Sihle Mlambo
Caption: Keller Rinaudo of Zipline, a company contracted by the Rwandan government to deliver medical products using drones. Picture: Sihle Mlambo
Caption: Keller Rinaudo of Zipline, a company contracted by the Rwandan government to deliver medical products using drones. Picture: Sihle Mlambo
Caption: Keller Rinaudo of Zipline, a company contracted by the Rwandan government to deliver medical products using drones. Picture: Sihle Mlambo
Caption: Keller Rinaudo of Zipline, a company contracted by the Rwandan government to deliver medical products using drones. Picture: Sihle Mlambo
Caption: Keller Rinaudo of Zipline, a company contracted by the Rwandan government to deliver medical products using drones. Picture: Sihle Mlambo
Caption: Keller Rinaudo of Zipline, a company contracted by the Rwandan government to deliver medical products using drones. Picture: Sihle Mlambo

Durban - Just imagine ordering medication and having it "ziplined" to your door.

No delivery trucks needed or long haul journeys on pot-holed roads.

This however, is not a futuristic idea - in fact it's happening in Rwanda at present, and the idea has just won an award from the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepeneurship at the World Economic Forum Africa in Durban. 

The man behind the idea, Zipline founder Keller Rinaudo, whose background is in industrial automation, has partnered with the Rwandan government to use automated aircraft - what we call drones - to drop off blood supplies, vaccines and medication to 21 hospitals in the far reaches of the country.

"This method gives people in rural areas the same access to medication as those in urban areas. There are no long waits. The hospital places an order for what they want and we have it delivered almost immediately," said Rinaudo.

And Rwanda is leading the way in this new method of administering healthcare, being the first country to integrate drones in the autonomous delivery of medical products.

"We started in Rwanda in October last year and we've had interest from other East African countries as well. It's a complete paradigm shift in healthcare," he said.

The specially designed drone carries the product travelling at around 100km/h and drops it 30 feet above the ground using a parachute to a medical professional waiting below.

"It revolutionises the way we do things, especially benefiting people in rural areas," he said.

INDEPENDENT MEDIA WEF TEAM