Medicines from the Sky

Published

Drones are pulling off a miracle here

It is bridging distances with an aim of saving human lives in the North-East now.

Carrying one and a half kg of medicines, a drone recently took off from India's first medical drone station, established in the state ofMeghalaya. Medicines were delivered to the remote primary health center of Meghalaya in just 36 minutes, which would have taken 2.5 hours if transported by roadway

The first drone station opened to deliver medicines in India is in West Garo Hills of Meghalaya where delivery of medicines started from Jengjal Sub divisional Hospital. The first deliveries were delivered to Pedaldoba Prima Health Center.

This drone delivered different healthcare products including Snakevenom-( for 2 people), Labetalol-( for 4 people), single dose of HumanAlbumin and the typhoid dose for 50 people in its first flight. What’snotable is that this transportation is 5 times faster in comparison toground transportation.

The success of this drone delivery led Arunachal Pradesh also join thebandwagon of delivering medical supplies through drone services. Thefirst consignment took off from the Ziro Valley in Arunachal inDecember to deliver a consignment in the remote region ofChambang, covering an aerial distance of 31 kms. This too only 21mins which via road journey would have taken nearly 8 hours.

On its return flight, the drone carried blood samples for testing to ZiroValley. The idea of sending vital medical supplies aerially was firstdiscussed with the state of Arunachal in 2020 by the World EconomicForum. Both jointly organised a session on this, to bridge the gaps inproviding universal health care to the tribal population.

From delivering essential supplies like drugs, diagnostic samples,vaccines, blood and blood components quickly and safely to differentregions of the state, drones are used as a mode of transport to supplythe critical supplies in far-flung and remote areas. Larger drones will be used to transport up to 25 kg of medicines, and other medical needs.

States in the North-East have been struggling with the robust deliverynetwork in remote areas due to inaccessibility through roads andrailway networks. Floods and landslides have often impacted thedelivery of essential medicines and vaccines to populations in hillyregions in the mountainous terrains.

The service started with funding from the World Bank, a joint initiative of the Health Systems Strengthening Project of the Government of Meghalaya and Tech-eagle, a drone delivery start-up.

In 2021, Tech Eagle had successfully completed Asia’s first cold chain vaccine delivery in Telangana under the World Economic Forum’s Medicines from the Sky initiative.

Richa Jain Kalra

Richa Jain Kalra is a seasoned editor who has been a leading news anchor on national television for over 18 years. She is a master communicator driven by the purpose of making a positive impact on society.

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