Remarks by Malam Nasir El-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State, at the inauguration of the Zipline instant delivery operations for medical consumables.

  1. I am most delighted that we are today inaugurating the first Zipline facility in Kaduna State, and indeed in Nigeria. We signed the partnership between the Kaduna State Government and Zipline on 3rd February 2021, with the mutual expectation that operations would commence before the end of 2021. The take-off has sadly taken longer than envisaged for a variety of reasons. But we are excited to achieve this milestone in our health systems transformation programme and we look forward to its effective implementation in the service of our people.

 

  1. Kaduna State welcomes Zipline and its advanced unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV or drone) technology for instant, safe and secure delivery of medical supplies and consumables to all our healthcare facilities. It is a safe, secure and effective technology that will help to advance our governance agenda to improve the access of our people to decent health services.

 

  1. In the last seven years of our stewardship in the government of Kaduna State, we have tried to improve and expand health infrastructure, hire more medical personnel, and provide needed equipment and commodities. This partnership with Zipline enhances our ability to distribute medical commodities more efficiently to our health facilities throughout the State, including the remotest and otherwise inaccessible rural clinics, health centres and hospitals. Even private hospitals, pharmacies and patent medicine stores can benefit from our bulk purchase of commodities and timely delivery by Zipline.

 

  1. Over the last seven years, the Kaduna State Government has consciously and deliberately strengthened the capacity of our primary health care system to deliver better services. Through policy reform and legislation, we took over full administrative responsibility of the 1,068 Primary Health Centres and Clinics (PHCs) from all our 23 Local Governments and placed the administration of the primary health system under one roof. This had the benefit of additional 40% funding contribution by the State Government to the operating expenditures of the PHCs, apart from assuming 100% financial responsibility for their capital expenditure needs since 2015.

 

  1. This step was taken to ensure that the operations of the PHCs are better funded and staffed, and the quality and scope of services standardised irrespective of where they are located. We also implemented a programme to renovate, expand and equip 255 primary health centres, one in each of the wards in the State. Now all our 10 million citizens have access to an equipped and staffed PHC within a 5 kilometre radius, and we are working towards reducing this to 3 kilometres – or within an hour’s of brisk walk.

 

  1. Several state-owned secondary health facilities – our general hospitals – have also received facelifts, new equipment and more healthcare personnel. Significant investments in tertiary health facilities earned our Barau Dikko Hospital accredited teaching hospital status in 2017 even as we push to complete the 300-bed specialist hospital project started in 2009, with the assistance of the Islamic Development Bank (ISDB).

 

  1. The 300-bed specialist hospital in Millennium City will also house a Nuclear Medicine Centre with the latest equipment and support facilities that will be the most advanced in the country. In collaboration with our national sovereign wealth fund – the NSIA, we are building another Cancer Centre that will on completion make Kaduna a medical tourism destination within Nigeria and the ECOWAS sub-region for oncology and cancer management patients by 2023, in sha Allah.

 

  1. Our policy reforms in the health sector include the implementation of an advanced healthcare supply chain transformation programme. At the heart of this is the Kaduna State Health Supplies Management Agency (KADHSMA) which is the agency responsible for ensuring that our health facilities get the medicines, consumables, and vaccines they need.

 

  1. At this point, I want to pay special tribute to the pioneer CEO of KADHSMA Ramatu Abdulkadir who championed the supply chain transformation programme, and appreciate the financial assistance of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the technical support of Pamela Scott Associates of Kenya for the training and capacity building that made this possible. We appreciate the commitment and hard work of the current CEO of KADHSMA and her staff for working hard with Zipline, the Ministry of Health and our Abuja Liaison Office to make today a reality.

 

  1. Zipline’s innovative technology therefore aligns with, and complements our various efforts to transform the healthcare system in Kaduna State. By enabling the distribution of medical commodities and consumables when needed to our health facilities it helps to save lives, reduces expense on inventory, cold chain, storage and warehousing, and avoids stock-outs and waste from the expiration of un-utilised inventory.

 

  1. Navigating the regulatory requirements of the Federal Government’s aviation and national security agencies has proven to be challenging, delaying the timely take-off of this project. This is understandable given that it is the first time this new technology is being deployed in our country. As other state governments and private firms engage Zipline to provide these needed services, we believe that both Zipline and its future customers will face a more informed, timely and responsive regulatory environment.

 

  1. While we express gratitude to the Office of the National Security Adviser, the Federal Ministry of Aviation, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority and NAFDAC for granting the required regulatory certifications, we still believe that as a country, Nigeria should be swifter in regulating, enabling and adopting new technologies and innovation. We call on the relevant aviation authorities to give their full support to this innovative technology as more and more of my colleagues have indicated firm interest to adopt Zipline’s services in their states.

 

  1. We wish to assure our partners in Zipline of our firm commitment to the successful delivery of the project. We welcome the jobs, taxes and the new technology that Kaduna State will benefit from, and we look forward to it contributing to better health outcomes for our people.

 

  1. In conclusion, let me use this opportunity to remind our people to enrol in the Contributory Health Insurance Scheme we rolled out in 2018. For a small monthly or affordable annual fee, enrolment helps to reduce out of pocket expenses when citizens and their registered family members require medical services. The more our citizens enrol, the quicker we are in attaining universal health coverage, thus enabling our people to take full advantage of the recently-enacted National Health Insurance Act, 2022.

 

  1. I wish you all journey mercies back to your various destinations within Nigeria, the USA, Europe, Kenya and Ghana, among others. God Bless Zipline, Inc. God Bless Kaduna State. God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Thank you for listening.

 

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