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Healthcare Innovation Programme Makes First-Ever Medical Drone Delivery In Sierra Leone

On 19th November, the Directorate of Science Technology & Innovation (DSTI) celebrated the first delivery of medicines by drone in Sierra Leone.  The drone delivery was completed by UK-based UAVaid as part of the MDDP project to improve access to medicines in remote parts of the country.  The delivery was conducted to test and demonstrate the use-case of the Medical Drone Delivery Project (MDDP) at the Mabang Community Health Post in Sierra Leone’s Moyamba District, with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, partnered with The Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHS), and Crown Agents.

The maiden flight from Rotifunk village to Mabang MCHP took just 13 minutes, a journey which normally takes 2 hours via vehicle, and was celebrated by the local community. In attendance were dignitaries and ministers, including the CIO of Sierra Leone, Dr.Sengeh, who explained the role of innovation and technology in improving access to medicines.  The event also brought together officials from The Ministry of Health and agencies including the National Medical Supplies Agency, Ministry of Basic and Senior Education, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Fisheries, UNICEF, and other development partners and community stakeholders.

UAV Drone landing with medical supplies at Mabang MCHP.

CIO, David Sengeh and other stakeholders at Mabang MCHP

David Manley, MDDP Project-Lead at DSTI, explained that initially, the MDDP project would focus on improving medicine deliveries to 250 Community Health Centers (CHCs) and hospitals nationwide, and there are plans to expand this to other health posts, significantly improving access to medicines for communities in remote and hard to reach areas of Sierra Leone. He added, “Specifically, in addition to contributing to the reduction of maternal-related deaths, the use of drones presents the possibility of numerous cross-sectoral use-cases and fosters informed decision-making at the highest levels of government.”  

Daniel Ronen, co-founder of UAVAid, said “We are extremely proud to be partnering with the government of Sierra Leone on such an important project and helping to improve the healthcare systems of the nation.  The use of drones helps overcome the numerous transport and data gathering challenges inherent in operating in such complex contexts.”  UAVaid was selected as the preferred drone supplier following a rigorous and transparent selection process from over 30 international companies.

UAV Aid Team with UAV Technical Lead, Rakie Sesay

Dr. Lawrence Sandi, Managing Director of the NMSA, whose agency’s mandate is to procure, warehouse, and distribute drugs and medical supplies nationwide said We are pleased to collaborate with DSTI in bringing this landmark medical intervention to actuality. We are making good progress in transforming healthcare in Sierra Leone with undimmed confidence. We salute all partners involved in the incredible hard work invested in this exercise. This is a win for all of us.”

During the event, Mr. James Houghton, MDDP team member from Crown Agents, explained how the multiple use-case drone operating model would enhance sustainability, a point reinforced by DSTI.

UAV Technical Lead, Rakie Sesay, who also explained that the overall strategy of building a drone ecosystem would encourage cross-sectoral growth across multiple industries including the use of drones in other areas such as agriculture, reforestation, and law enforcement.

Notes to editors

For more information contact:

DSTI:          Drones@dsti.gov.sl

UAVAid:     Daniel Ronen   daniel@uavaid.com

The  MDDP Project

The DSTI led Medical Drone Delivery Project (MDDP) is designed to provide improved access of medicines to parts of Sierra Leone traditionally unnavigable for some or all of the year. The MDDP incorporates a rapid dispatch capability into the existing medical supply chain. This dispatch transports 42 of the most essential commodities prioritized by The National Medical Supply Agency (NMSA) to combat maternal and infant mortality. 

Making a drastic cut to Sierra Leone’s startling maternal mortality statistics has been high on the presidential agenda since 2018. With 15% of the national budget allocated to increasing access to quality health care services, and a promise to halve maternal mortality rates by 2023, creating a space that supports drone-enabled medical supply chains seems like another step in the right direction. 

The Directorate of Science Technology and Innovation (DSTI)

www.dsti.gov.sl

The Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation (DSTI), uses science, technology and innovation to support the Government of Sierra Leone to deliver on its national development plan effectively and efficiently, and to help transform Sierra Leone into an innovation and entrepreneurship hub.

UAVAID LTD

www.uavaid.com
UAVAid is a UK-based developer and operator of specialist Unmanned Aerial Systems AKA ‘drones’ that are optimised for global development (GD) and humanitarian applications in remote and difficult to reach areas of the developing world.  They operate a mixed fleet of BVLOS drones, including their proprietary multi-role HANSARD, and VTOL aircraft supported by their technical partner SWOOP.

Blog

Sierra Leone Launches Digital Learning Hubs to boost skills Acquisition

5/11/21

The Directorate of Science, Technology, and Innovation (DSTI), in partnership with UNICEF, launches and officially announces the opening of the first Digital Learning Hub at the Institute of Public Administration and Management (IPAM).  

The establishment of the Hub aims to address the existing challenge of skills gaps for young people and within the workforce by providing more digital learning opportunities.

It also aims to boost the acquisition and retention of in-demand skills for young people intending to enter the job market and cultivate improved learning outcomes for the current workforce.

The Learning Hub will provide a conducive workspace with free access to 30 computers and reliable internet connection. The Hub’s registered users will also have access to a wide range of digital learning content via the Learning Passport platform to help learners fully capitalise on opportunities. 

The Hubs will function on a day-to-day management procedure, and operations will be facilitated by an organisation with experience establishing and operating digital learning centers.

The roll-out of these hubs is set to optimise and redefine existing notions about education meaningfully. The course content of this initiative is tailored to reflect a viable alternative to traditional learning methods and aligns with the broader objective of advancing the Human Capital Development Agenda. 

The hub at IPAM will initially have the eUPSHIFT program available, but will later feature Drones and UAV courses (theoretical and practical), Graphics Design, Multimedia and other courses.

Lead Project Coordinator at DSTI, Salima Bah, sees a great deal of promise in this initiative.

`We can only meet the demands of the 21st-century workforce if we acquire the capacity and skill sets required. With the establishment of the first DLH we are providing an opportunity for young people who are looking to enter the workforce as well as current members of the workforce to acquire the skills sets to make them competitive in the global economy. Tapping into the industry and ingenuity of the workforce through unconventional means is clearly the hallmark of this initiative.’ – Lead Project Coordinator, DSTI, Salima Bah.

UNICEF Sierra Leone’s Innovation Specialist, Shane O’Connor, highlighted the progress made on Digital Innovation.

With the launch of the 1st Digital Learning Hub, we are making progress to deliver on UNICEF’s Reimage Education agenda. Making digital platforms, like the Learning Passport, and digital content, like eUPSHIFT, available in Sierra Leone, we are taking a step towards making digital learning be part of a basic basket of essential services for every child and young person.”

UNICEF Sierra Leone’s Innovation Specialist, Shane O’Connor

Echoing on the promise of the hub in transforming skills acquisition and overall professional development of citizens is Deputy Vice-Chancellor of IPAM, Prof. Samuel Nonie

We salute the efforts of DSTI and Unicef for breathing life into the aspirations of increased workforce development designed to foster job market competitiveness and reduce skills deficit. We are thrilled to host the first digital learning hub in Sierra Leone and we are certain that its use will be maximized to its fullest potential” – Deputy Vice-Chancellor of IPAM, Prof. Samuel Nonie

Want to know more about the Learning Hub or how to be a member? Go to https://www.dsti.gov.sl/project/

Uncategorized

NATIONAL YOUTH INNOVATION CHALLENGE

Generation Unlimited Sierra Leone (GenU SL), an initiative spearheaded by the Ministry of Youth Affairs supported by DSTI and UNICEF, aims to develop young people’s educational and entrepreneurial portfolio, is set to launch a NATIONAL YOUTH INNOVATION CHALLENGE.

The Generation Unlimited National Youth Innovation Challenge calls on young innovators to design solutions to improve education/life skills and youth unemployment. The Youth Innovation Challenge is intentional in situating youth as leaders and drivers of our country’s development and provides for new structures and mechanisms to accelerate the empowerment of youth which make up over 40% of Sierra Leone’s population. 

This innovative challenge directly aligns with the priorities and implementation of the revised National Youth Policy. The revised National Youth Policy (2020–2025) is rooted in the President’s vision and commitment to harness the potential of Sierra Leone’s youth population for national development. 

Minister of Youth Affairs, Mohamed Orman Bangura at the Launch of the GenU National Partnership Committee.

“Government remains committed to putting youths at the center of its development agenda. A National Youth Challenge represents our hope for a prosperous future in Sierra Leone pioneered by youths” – Mohamed Orman Bangura, Minister of Youth Affairs.

The National Youth Innovation Challenge aims to inspire, provide opportunities, and support young people between the ages of 12 and 25, especially those disadvantaged by poverty and lack the resources to bring their ideas and creativity to life. 

The National Youth Innovation Challenge welcomes young people between the ages of 12 and 25 regardless of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, religion, or disability to form teams and participate in the challenge.

Successful applicants will be invited to participate in Human-Centered design workshops. Following these workshops, the five most promising ideas will be selected and awarded a cash prize of  1,000 USD each as seed funding and provided with mentorship and technical support for project implementation. Projects selected should be completed by July 2022. In addition, a Pre-Bootcamp workshop will be hosted in December 2021. 

The two most promising solutions from Sierra Leone will be submitted for consideration in the Global GenU Youth Challenge.

Interested applicants can apply https://bit.ly/GenUSLYouthInnovation

Applications will be open from the 28th of October 2022, and the deadline for all submissions is the 27th of November 2022 by 5:00 PM GMT.

For more information, contact us via email at genunlimited_sl@dsti.gov.

Or by phone SMS/text the word GENU to 2080 on Orange or Africell for FREE 

More photos of the launch

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