HealthTechnology

Rwanda advances health care delivery using medical drone

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Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame consistently proves to be a progressive and respected leader, politically and developmentally.  Since his leadership, Rwanda continues to change for the better, especially in the areas of poverty reduction, employment, and health care.

In recent months, Rwanda introduced a drone service in its healthcare delivery system. The drone service will make up to 150 deliveries of blood per day to cater for hard-to-reach communities in rural Rwanda. Postpartum hemorrhage – or blood loss – is the most common cause of death among pregnant women in Rwanda.

Drone in Kenya
Drone in Kenya

Hospitals in rural areas struggle to store enough blood due to the lack of adequate refrigerators, and the transportation of medical supplies to some remote regions of the country is hindered by impassable terrain, especially during the rainy season. Speaking at the launch on Friday 14 October, President Paul Kagame highlighted the importance of using “cutting edge technology to bypass the challenges of existing modes of transport”.

“Drones are very useful, both commercially and for improving services in the health sector,” he said.” We are happy to be launching this innovative technology and to continue working with partners to develop it further.”

US-based Zipline, a robotics company, will operate the drone delivery system in partnership with United Parcel Service (UPS) and Global Alliance for Vaccines (Gavi). Zipline announced its partnership with the Rwandan government in April 2016 and had spent the last few months testing the system at a distribution center in the central district of Muhanga.

The center currently houses 15 custom-built drones, which can carry up to 1.5 kilograms of blood to a distance of up to 150 kilometers. Hospitals can order blood using text message, and the lifesaving medical supply will be parachuted to the delivery location in around 15 minutes.

The drone delivery service will be expanded to the Eastern region of Rwanda in early 2017, which will put almost every one of the country’s 11 million citizens within reach of instant delivery of lifesaving medicines, according to a Zip line statement.

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