On the occasion of India’s 76th Independence Day, World Economic Forum (WEF) has initiated a pilot project called ‘Medicine from the Sky’ in Arunachal Pradesh. It is a six-month-long programme under which drones will deliver medicines in the north-eastern state. This flagship initiative aims to document the response of health systems in remote parts of the state when integrated with drone-based supply chains.
The four pillars of the project are:
- Basic healthcare needs
- Ecosystem skill levels, terrain, weather considerations
- Survivability, scalability and sustainability
- Stress testing of drone platforms
Vignesh Santhanam, Lead, Aerospace and Drones, World Economic Forum, said, “In mid-2021, we undertook a field study in Arunachal Pradesh, along with the Public Health Foundation of India, to learn more about the local health distribution system, disease profile and the nature of the terrain. Traversing the Seppa-Bameng belt by road, in particular, made it evident that drones were an absolute necessity.”
WEF partnered with the state of Arunachal Pradesh in 2020, when it hosted a discussion revolving around the issue of medical logistics and delivery. The session analysed the possibility and viability of using drones in remote tribal areas for the purpose. The area is often seen reeling under the impact of frequent landslides and floods. This hampers the last-mile delivery of medicines and other critical needs. Further discussions resulted in the decision to implement the drone delivery programme.
The Magistrate of the East Kameng district, Pravimal Abhishek Polumatla, explained “East Kameng district has a hilly terrain which makes it difficult to access interior areas, particularly during the monsoon season. I am sure drone-based drug delivery will be a game-changer in strengthening access to healthcare in such remote areas. I hope the project will give us the answers and clarity for large-scale implementation.”
“By delivering medical supplies much faster than road-based logistics, the drone network would serve the remote areas by offering access to diagnostics, essential medicines and vaccines. We are hoping this will reduce out-of-pocket expenditure for patients,” he summed up.