SHILLONG, Nov 24: The state government will undertake a pilot project on the use of drones for delivering medicines and vaccines in West Khasi Hills district.
The Smart Village Movement-Berkeley Haas has taken the initiative for this project with the collaborative objective of studying the feasibility and effectiveness of smart aerial logistics for multiple service delivery mechanisms.
Two routes for the demonstration were identified in the West Khasi Hills district after consultations with the National Health Mission officials. The project entails deliveries to the PHCs of Mawei, Markasa and Kynshi from the Nongstoin Civil Hospital, the central hub.
Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma will initiate the NHM-supported pilot project virtually.
The use of drones has gained popularity in the last two years, beginning with the World Economic Forum’s “Medicine from the Sky” project in India. Several states are piloting similar solutions for better access to medical care among rural communities.
Meghalaya’s terrain combined with climatic conditions, road connectivity, and sporadic populations create a need for innovative solutions. The use of drones can augment healthcare access to transport blood, platelets and other time-critical medical supplies, officials said.
The critical parameters used to rationalise this capability are distance, hard-to-reach areas, and constrained road conditions that prolong travel time. For example, the time taken to travel 35 km from Nongstoin Civil Hospital to Maweit PHC is generally 3 hours.
A drone can cover the distance in 20 minutes.
The Smart Village Movement’s healthcare logistics partner, Tech Eagle Innovations will be responsible for the activities. They have recently conducted pilot projects in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Telangana and Delhi-NCR.
The drones to be used for the project will be a hybrid VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) type. Their trial was approved by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Airports Authority of India and Directorate General of Civil Aviation.