Medicine from the Sky: How drones could change the future of the healthcare system
Hyderabad, June 14: Drones have had limited use in India after legalizing the use and with a proper license.
Yet, in this modern age, many people in rural and underdeveloped quarters of the world still lack access to basic healthcare. Closing these gaps has gained a new urgency during the current pandemic. The use of drones would lead to more rapid and less error prone administration of medications. Nurses and pharmacists can work more efficiently as supplies can be summoned to the bedside instead of the time consuming task of gathering necessary items.
However, now the people living in the remote corners of the India may soon get Covid-19 vaccine through drones.
For that, the government has invited bids for the use of drones to deliver Covid vaccines and drugs to remote and difficult-to-reach areas to ensure last-mile coverage in select locations of the country.
Meanwhile, the Telangana government has launched 'Medicine from the Sky' initiative in partnership with World Economic Forum, Niti Aayog, and HealthNet Global.
Medicine from the Sky, an World Economic Forum initiative in partnership with the State Government of Telangana and Apollo Hospitals in India have also helped to enable and scale drone-based medical deliveries in the region.
The next phase of this initiative will transform trials and research into action in the sky.
At Wings India 2020, an event organized by India's Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Airports Authority of India, the World Economic Forum co-organized a workshop with the State Government of Telangana to bring together all essential stakeholders to design a pilot project demonstrating the potential for drone delivery of medical supplies in India. This community is now looking at ways drones can support India's response to COVID-19.
The project could have an immense impact on overhauling India's cold-chain systems. With drones in place, the country's healthcare sector could potentially witness large-scale deliveries of blood, long-tail medicines, samples and even organs throughout India and in the region. The State Government of Telangana is taking important first steps to make this a reality, including the release of an "expression of interest," calling for potential participants who can demonstrate drone deliveries.
The government's willingness to create an enabling policy environment where the use of drones can become mainstream will help ensure that most of its geographic expanse can receive adequate medical coverage. The Ministry of Civil Aviation recently created a special procedure for expediting drone flight requests for COVID-19 related applications through their online Digital Sky Platform, acknowledging the important role the technology can play in the current crisis. Initiatives in India and across Africa can be a model for other states to replicate, allowing them to create a system for medical drone procurement and to bridge key healthcare gaps.