Rwanda has been commended for the innovative approach of adopting a drone delivery network to transport vital blood supplies to far-flung areas of the country.
According to the Rwandan President, Paul Kagame, ”the use of commercial drones to transport essential medical products is a milestone for Rwanda”. Technology becomes relevant and meaningful when it works for people and addresses challenges they face,” Kagame said.
Unmanned aerial vehicles or drones were used to deliver small packages by parachute, bypassing traffic or washed-out roads in a country dubbed the Land of a Thousand Hills.
Zipline, the company behind the project, says the aircraft will be capable of making up to 150 deliveries to 21 facilities in the African country, which has a scattered population.
“I think that one of the best ways we can work together with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to help this technology take off in the US is by operating in a country where we can basically serve a very clear need and get tens of thousands of hours of safe flight data,” said Keller Rinaudo, the CEO of Zipline.
According to a BBC report, ”the drones have been used to deliver blood, plasma, and coagulants to hospitals across rural western Rwanda, helping to cut waiting times from hours to minutes. The aircraft are launched from a catapult and fly below 500ft (152m) to avoid the airspace used by passenger planes. They have an operational range of 150km (93 miles) but could, in theory, fly almost twice that distance”.
”Despite major progress in the past few years, Rwanda – one of the world’s poorest countries – has a long way to go to provide quality health care. Building and running hospitals is expensive, so the government has incentive to be the first in the world to establish a commercial drone-delivery network”, as quoted by Aljazeera.