Drone Delivery: Medical Supplies in Africa
Healthcare access isn’t readily available in the East African country of Tanzania, but a company based in California is looking to change that through the use of UAVs. Currently, for every 100,000 people, there are only three doctors, and only about 5,600 public health facilities meant to serve a population of 56 million. With the scarce availability of medical care, this means that reaching people in need of treatment for diseases like HIV—the biggest cause of death in Tanzania—can be extremely difficult.
The program that a California company is planning to launch in 2018, will include 120 drones that will be used to make as many as 2,000 daily deliveries of equipment for blood transfusions, vaccinations, and medication.
The company’s chief executive, Keller Rinaudo, tells Newsweek that this concept draws inspiration from a meeting he had with a Tanzanian student in 2014. The student designed a program that sends a text message to health care workers for medical emergencies and vaccines when they are needed. The problem, however, is then getting these supplies. This proposed program will, therefore, be an extension, and act alongside the text message idea, as a way of then sending the necessary medical supplies.
The planned network will consist of four distribution centers, each with 30 drones, able to carry 1.5 kilograms and travel about 100-miles round trip at a speed of 70 miles per hour. The company has launched its services in countries such as Rwanda and Tanzania, however, regulations in North America for drones and UAVs is currently much stricter.
The project’s so far successful development in Rwanda could however potentially be used as evidence for similar actions in the North America. Rinaudo said in a podcast interview in 2017 that he hoped the U.S. government is “looking at what’s happening in Rwanda and excited.”