Implementing lifesaving technology in Senegal

May 6, 2021

RigiTech and PATH implement life saving technology operated locally to support medicine, vaccine and laboratory sample delivery

Foundiougne, Senegal, March 2021: The international NGO PATH and the Swiss drone delivery company RigiTech have joined forces in tackling one of the region’s most critical challenges: access to healthcare in remote areas. Together, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, they have successfully conducted the first steps towards long range medical drone delivery operation in the rural region of Foundiougne in Senegal.

The purpose of this operation was to demonstrate the value of medical cargo drones in providing faster and more reliable access to essential healthcare items to remote and isolated communities in the Saloum Delta. Due to the lack of road 

access, round trips by boat between Foundiougne and Djirnda (28km) or Diamniadio (15km) take several hours during the dry season and can be completely impracticable during the rainy season, causing a major challenge in access to medical goods.

RigiTech’s drone delivery solution (the AirBridge) allowed for its first generation drone (the RigiOne) to successfully complete the flights in a safe, fast and reliable manner, flying back and forth between Foundiougne, Diamniadio and Djirnda, covering the distance in less than 15 and 25 minutes respectively. Multiple return flights and over 100km were flown, proving the repeatability and reliability of the operation, reducing delivery times from several hours to minutes.

“Nous avons reçu récemment dans le contexte de cette pandémie des patients qui sont arrivés décédés dans des situations ou peut-être l’infirmier chef de poste aurait pu les prendre en charge s’il y avait la disponibilité de ces médicaments d’urgence.”
“In the context of this pandemic, we have recently received patients who were deceased on arrival in situations where perhaps the health post chief could have taken charge if they had had access to emergency medications.”

Ndiaye Faly DIOP
Médecin chef District de Foundiougne

Without a doubt, this project would not have been possible without PATH Senegal’s previous work, which not only secured the support from the Government, Civil Aviation, local authorities, hospitals, and the community as a whole but also looked beyond the pilot project and proposed a sustainable and future-proof solution by inviting local Senegalese drone operators from Senegal Flying Labs to be part of the entire mission.

Having Senegal Flying Labs operating the drones alongside RigiTech’s pilots proved the vision of having this technology locally run and sustainably. The young team of Senegalese drone pilots were extremely motivated, competent and knowledgeable on the technology and will help ensure the future of RigiTech’s medical AirBridge in Senegal.

All operations were conducted under a special BVLOS permission from ANACIM (Senegalese Civil Aviation Authorities), whose inspectors were present during the operation to certify the safety and reliability of the systems. These tests were used as a basis for granting a long term authorisation to deploy RigiTech’s technology throughout Senegal.

All partners are actively exploring opportunities that would allow an extended demonstration leading towards the rollout of locally-operated AirBridge networks across the country in the upcoming months, enabling Senegal to be at the forefront of the technology, enhancing its healthcare system and in doing so, saving lives.

“Je suis émue car je ne pensais pas que cela soit possible et je rends grâce à Dieu. Nous prions très fort pour la pérennisation de ce projet de drone.”
“I am moved because I didn’t think it would be possible and I thank God. We pray for the sustainability of this drone project.”

Mme Ndeye Issa Ndiaye
Première Adjointe au Maire de Foundiougne
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