mer medical director. Roughly half of that
demand comes from the maternity ward,
which recorded more than 4,600 births
in 2016. The hospital’s high volume of
patients was evident on a February morning from the crowd that sat on wooden
benches in its open-air reception area:
women in colorful patterned dresses, men
in fraying jackets, uniformed schoolchildren, and even a small group of prisoners
dressed in pink and orange smocks.
Although many Kabgayi patients
come from hard-to-reach surrounding villages, the hospital itself, which sits just off
a well-maintained paved road to Kigali,
isn’t difficult to access. The facility is also
too close to Zipline’s distribution center
for drone deliveries to make much sense
absent plans to scale up to other hospitals:
if its drones failed to function properly,
the company reckoned when selecting
Kabgayi as its inaugural site, it could still
deliver blood quickly by truck. Yet most
of the facilities Zipline plans to service
are considerably more remote. Personnel
at Muhororo District Hospital—Zipline’s
second pilot facility, which received its
first drone delivery at the end of February—could spend an entire day battling
rutted dirt roads, and the occasional landslide, to make a blood collection in Kigali.
Zipline’s impact is hard to quantify.
Difficulty accessing blood is not the only
factor inhibiting effective care: physicians and other skilled personnel are in
Transporting water near Kigali.