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“Game Changer”: Uganda Launches Drone to Deliver HIV Drugs to Remote Islands | Global Development




As the bottle of medicine is carefully loaded into the body of the drone, a small crowd gathers to watch the other side of the yellow tape that marks the lawn landing zone.

With a gentle growl, the drone rises a little uncertainly into the sky with its 1.5-meter wings. Valuable cargo leaving Bufmira Health Center III in the Kalangala district of Uganda is an important drug for people living in some of the region’s most distant communities. Kalangala is made up of 84 islands on Lake Victoria, the world’s largest tropical lake. Uganda Share with Tanzania and Kenya.

The drone, which took off last week, was the pilot of a new project, now with 20 scheduled flights a month, primarily HIV drugs to 78 widely scattered community groups and medical facilities in the Ssese Islands, which have the highest HIV positive rates in Uganda. Carry. ..

Located about 60 miles from the capital Kampala and home to more than 67,000 people, the Kalangala district has an HIV positive rate of 18%, which is Nationwide 5.6% percentage. The government’s HIV strategy estimates that the prevalence of the virus is up to 40% in some fishing communities.

Traveling to this area is only possible by boat, making it difficult to provide antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) and health care, depending on the weather, and at risk to healthcare professionals. Andrew Kambug, Executive Director of Makerere University, said the drone will cost about £ 4,000 per aircraft, carry up to 1 kg of luggage and fly 150 km. Infectious Diseases Research Institute (IDI).

“After the last mile delivery and providing equitable access to the latest treatments for HIV for people living in remote areas is one of the most important challenges in global health and Uganda,” he said. I did.

Drone and Jude Matob
Jude Matob of Bufmira Health Center. Photo: Makerere University Institute for Infectious Diseases

“Medical drones help solve this challenge by providing life-saving medicines safely and reliably, which allows front-line healthcare professionals to spend more time performing other important services. Resources can be allocated to create a healthier and more resilient community. “

Uganda Ministry of Health, Academy of Health Innovation, Uganda, and IDI Medical drone He piloted at Bufmira and carried ARV to more than 1,000 people living with HIV.

The “Overcome Geographical Barriers with Technology” initiative will ease the challenge, said Henry Mwevesa, director of health services in Uganda, said he saw the launch.

“Using medical drones is a big step for us as a healthcare sector in improving service delivery, especially in hard-to-reach areas,” he said.

“It’s very convenient. If successful, you can adopt it in another facility and duplicate it elsewhere.”

The drone is controlled by locally trained professionals who monitor flight and landing.

“It’s exciting, and it makes it easier to transport vaccines to our medical facilities at these landing sites,” said Jude Matob, head of the Bufmira Health Center. “Therefore, we expect more outpatient coverage.”

The· Ugandan Medical Association Welcomed the drone, but expressed concern Drug deficiency Due to insufficient funds. Secretary-General Mukuzi Muhereza said: It’s very important and can be a game changer. It’s great to see if it really works with our bad networks and connections.

“Distribution and delivery are welcome, but another biggest problem I’m seeing is that even other public health facilities are out of stock, even if they can be reached by road, so out of stock is transportation or I don’t think it’s because of the connection. The biggest out-of-stock is due to funding, “he said.

“In reality, I don’t think we’re giving national health care stores enough money to buy medicines and supplies for all Uganda that need them. The biggest change is the budget. Is it possible to secure a budget by increasing? [we need] I will send. “

Other African countries, including Rwanda and Ghana, also use drones to provide blood and medicines, and the technology is estimated to serve more than 22 million people.

Robotics company Zipline technician launches drone
A drone carrying batches of blood was launched in Rwanda in 2016, and the development of medical drones in rural Africa has begun. Photo: Stephanie Agrietti / AFP / Getty Images

Rosalind Parkes-Ratanshi, director of the Academy for Health Innovation, said the program is also an important research opportunity to assess and quantify how effective drones are in delivering medicines, expanding drone technology and urgently. He said the data would be useful in responding to the situation.

“Thanks to the support and coordination of our partners, including Johnson & Johnson, this program will help us gather the information and data we need to realize this future, while at the same time providing life-saving medicine to those in need. It also helps to provide, “says Parks. Rattanshi.

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