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A tech milestone as Rwanda starts using drones to deliver blood products

In an initiative to leapfrog infrastructural challenges affecting the delivery of healthcare solutions in parts of Rwanda, the country has launched a drone delivery network to transport vital blood supplies to remote areas of the country. The technology milestone is being celebrated and applauded on social as a major achievement which will save lives, and there’s hope that the initiative could spur the development of similar projects in the delivery of medical supplies in remote parts of Africa.

In an initiative to leapfrog infrastructural challenges affecting the delivery of healthcare solutions in parts of Rwanda, the country has launched a drone delivery network to transport vital blood supplies to remote areas of the country.

The initiative is a partnership between U.S. start-up, Zipline and the government of Rwanda to use drones to deliver all blood products for selected hospitals and health centres.

The partnership set to revolutionise healthcare delivery in Rwanda. Commenting on the launch, President Paul Kagame said on Twitter: “This use of unmanned commercial drones to transport essential medical products is a milestone for Rwanda in many respects. It demonstrates the possibility of transforming business models in many industries beyond healthcare”.

President Kagame has extolled the benefits of ICTs, writing on Twitter “We recognise its power to change lives, and contribute to the rapid socio-economic transformation we want. Good enough is no longer enough. We need to aim for the best. ‪#MedDronesRw”.

The project will see drones being first being deployed in Muhanga district, 50 kilometres (31 miles) west of the capital Kigali, and it is expected to expand to other parts of the country by 2017, with the objective to offer the service to 21 hospitals across the country.

Read: Rwanda to start using drones to deliver blood products for 20 hospitals

African countries have started embracing drone technology to address various needs. Malawi has been working with Unicef on a project to explore the use of drones (which carry the blood samples from health centres to laboratories) to speed-up HIV testing and diagnosis in infants.

A technician of California-based robotics company Zipline launches a drone, on October 12, 2016 in Muhanga, 50 kilometres (31 miles) west of the capital Kigali. Photo: ANP/AFP Photo Stephanie Aglietti
A technician of California-based robotics company Zipline launches a drone, on October 12, 2016 in Muhanga, 50 kilometres (31 miles) west of the capital Kigali. Photo: ANP/AFP Photo Stephanie Aglietti

Other examples of countries using drone include leveraging drone technology to fight poaching (South Africa-Kruger National Park), and transportation of birth control, condoms and other medical supplies (Ghana-Dr One project) amongst others.

The initiative in Rwanda has continued to draw widespread applause on social media, and there’s hope that the initiative could spur the development of similar projects in the delivery of medical supplies in remote parts of Africa.

Twitter reactions:

https://twitter.com/ali_naka/status/787129484977864705

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