Ugandan Use Drones to Combat HIV

A crowd gathers to watch the launch of a medical drone in Uganda. Source: The Guardian

To track and fight one of the worst provincial HIV outbreaks in Uganda, the government has deployed drones to deliver medical supplies.

The Kalangala District of Uganda is composed of 84 remote islands on the surface of Lake Victoria. Taking the idea from other African neighbors like Rwanda and Ghana, the project utilizes cargo drones to ferry medical supplies to some of the remotest parts of the country.

Dubbed by some as a “game changer,” the use of drones to reach the Lake Victoria communities is helping to reduce transport time by more than 50%. By humans in boats transporting medicine to some communities takes approximately 16 hours due the need for navigation hurdles.

Home to around 67,000 people, Lake Victoria’s islands that compose the Kalangala District have seen an increase in the HIV incidence rate to 18%, greatly exceeding the national average of 5.6%.

Each drone cost roughly $5,500 each. Developed by the Academy For Health Innovation Uganda, the drones currently supply 78 separate communities and health facilities across Kalangala – performing 200 flights a month.

Uganda’s Director General of Health Services Henry Mwebesa said, “Using medical drones is a huge step for us as a health sector in improving service delivery especially in hard to reach areas.”

Parkes-Ratanshi, Director of the Project for the Academy noted, “Thanks to the support and coordination of our partners, including Johnson & Johnson, this program will help gather the information and data needed to help make this future a reality, while also helping to deliver lifesaving care to people in need.”

Source: The Guardian