Drone delivery could revolutionise healthcare | Sunday Observer

Drone delivery could revolutionise healthcare

6 October, 2019

Drone delivery of medicine is a possible life saving technology in the disaster management field, for Sri Lanka. As the country is becoming more and more prone to natural disasters, this mechanism will be an added advantage in efficient management of disaster situations, Global Business Development Lead, Zipline, Yaniv Gelnik said.

“This technology is already utilised by India and Sri Lanka could their cue from it. We have plans to build five distribution centres, 2 in South, 2 in central and 1 in North for seamless operation. We are negotiating with the Ministry of Health to obtain necessary approvals and support,” he said.

The process will ensure high delivery speed and efficiency by solving the problem of accessibility of medicinal drugs while creating a national-level distribution network. We are paid to offer ‘just-in-time’ delivery options and to this end we have the best of drones to support our service, he said.

The service providers plan to launch ad-hoc delivery in future to meet emergency demands in complementing the national healthcare service. It is the only drone delivery company operated at national level in countries such as Rwanda, Ghana and India. The service guarantees cold chain management and has the only operational drone management system which also eliminates the need for a runway, with the ability to operate in a limited space.

“This is a logistical application that could be used in an emergency and routine supply. The delivery will be done on need-based basis with a short delivery time. This mechanism will be of immense use in the events of mass casualty, national disasters and epidemic situations. The service could be improved with logistical delivery solution,” Dr. Naveen Udawella said.

“This mechanism could be made use of to send test samples to labs, for expensive and specific tests, where quick delivery is possible. With this process in place, we hope to increase efficiency, availability of products and minimise wastage ensuring better medical care for the people of our country,” he said.

Access to vital health products, in Sri Lanka and around the world, is hampered by the last mile problem - i.e. the difficulty of matching the supply of medicine from central storage to the demand at urban and rural health facilities. All too often, people needing lifesaving care do not get the medicine they need at the time they need it. This has been an issue in Sri Lanka in the recent past with the annual flooding, land slides and many such unfortunate disasters.

The need to accelerate the supply chain management vis-a-vis the traditional vehicles has been identified by many healthcare professionals despite Sri Lanka having one of the best health care systems in the region, there is the need to incorporate faster access to critical healthcare for all citizens, as and when they need it.

India has taken the first steps to introduce life saving medical delivery drones in Maharashtra.

The Government of Maharashtra has teamed up with Zipline, the world’s first and only national-scale drone delivery service, to use a logistics network of autonomous delivery drones to help transform emergency medicine and critical care in one of India’s most populous states.

The revolutionary new service, which is expected to launch operations in early 2020, showcases to other nations of the region including Sri Lanka the bold vision of the Government of Maharashtra in using drone delivery to establish universal, seven-days-a-week access to lifesaving and critical medicines for each of its 120 million citizens over the coming years.

Zipline drones will make on-demand and emergency deliveries of blood products, vaccines and life-saving medications. As such, the Government of Maharashtra’s vision is for Zipline to establish a total of 10 Distribution centres across Maharashtra, in phases over the next several years.

To increase access and reduce medical waste, a key stock of blood products, vaccines and life-saving medications will be stored at Zipline’s distribution centers for just-in-time delivery. Health workers will place orders by text message or call and promptly receive their deliveries in 30 minutes on average. Through the drone delivery service the delivery of vaccines, blood and other lifesaving products can be arranged instantly when time is of the essence. It will help ensure that millions of people in a disaster situation can access healthcare as soon as possible.