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Drones to save lives by providing urban-grade healthcare in rural areas of India

A new experimental programme in India led by the World Economic Forum (WEF) has shown how drone technology can be used to bring quality healthcare to people living in the remotest areas of the country.

Today the WEF published the findings of the trial, outlined in the report Medicine from the Sky, India: How Drones Can Make Primary Healthcare Accessible to All, offering a practical vision for delivering essential medicines to citizens who lack access to basic healthcare.

The report outlines how “healthcare professionals delivered vaccines, COVID-19 testing samples and medical products to a population of over 300,000 people represented by eight district health facilities in the Vikarabad district of the southern state of Telangana. WEF says the district was chosen because it includes communities living in the dense forests of the Anantagiri hills and that the trial involved over 300 drone sorties in a 45-day period”.

According to the press release “The trial oversaw the first vaccine delivery over long range (beyond visual line of sight) in Asia. It is part of a wider programme, Medicine from the Sky, led by the World Economic Forum’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution India, in partnership with the Government of Telangana, Apollo Hospital’s Healthnet Global and NITI Aayog, the Indian government’s federal think-tank. The programme aims to work with business, policy-makers and communities to use drone technology to extend urban-grade healthcare to India’s remotest areas. Multiple stakeholders were consulted throughout, including healthcare workers, local communities, local police, district-level administrators and local air traffic control”.

“It comes after the central Indian government brought in Drone Rules 2021, a more liberalized regime for unmanned aircraft systems” says the press release “which is expected to transform core sectors of the economy including logistics, agriculture, healthcare and emergency response. It also follows a drive to improve rural healthcare, with a range of programmes aimed at making it more accessible and inexpensive. The pandemic highlighted the lack of access to healthcare for rural communities due to infrastructure, supply and transport challenges”.

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(Image: WEF)

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