Time is critical in medical emergencies, especially when victims need blood or a life-saving drug. In remote rural areas around the world, the logistics of delivering medical supplies, vaccines, and anti-venoms are especially challenging given the distance, lack of road connectivity, and the rough terrain to be covered. Globally, health communities are looking for innovative ways to deliver vaccines and medicines that help protect and save lives in communities that do not have access to healthcare.
The use of drones has gained much merit in the past two years, beginning with the World Economic Forum’s Medicine from the Sky Project in India. Several states are piloting similar solutions to boost access to medical care in rural communities. Meghalaya’s unique terrain combined with climatic conditions, road connectivity, and sporadic populations create a need for innovative solutions. Drones can further augment healthcare access with the possibility to transport blood, platelets, and other time-critical medical supplies. Studying the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of using new-age, smart logistic solutions can enhance time and resource management for the healthcare system in the state while improving quality of life in sustainable ways. To facilitate this logistical solution in the remotest parts of the country, we partnered with Tech Eagle Innovation. Their logistics expertise and experience with the support of the Government of Meghalaya has given us a launch-ready solution that can have an immense and profound impact on thousands of people in rural Meghalaya.
Tech Eagle is India’s pioneer and lead manufacturer of long-range, high-speed, heavy payload delivery drone solutions. Founded in 2015 by IIT Kanpur alumni, it’s one of the very first companies to receive approvals from DGCA, MoCA, AAI & MHA to conduct Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) trials for package delivery via drones in India.
After consultation with National Health Mission (NHM) officials in West Khasi Hills, two routes were identified for the pilot demo. Making Nongstoin District Hospital the central hub, the drone made deliveries to Poly Health Clinics (PHC) of Mawei, Markasa, and Kynshi. This demo conducted in West Khasi Hills District helps to comprehend the use of a Hybrid VTOL type of drone, for the first time in India. The Honourable Chief Minister of Meghalaya, Shri Conrad K Sangma, participated virtually to witness the drone pilot in the state.
Some of the key parameters used to rationalize drone usage are distance, hard-to-reach areas, and constrained road conditions that prolong travel time. For example, the time usually taken to travel from District Hospital Nongstoin to Maweit PHC is typically 3 hours to cover its distance of 35 km, with a round trip of 6 hours. The striking advantage of the use of drones cuts down the delivery time and delivers five times faster. In the case of Nongstoin to Maweit, the delivery time via drone was just 20 minutes.
The future possibilities of drone use are endless. This project can be scaled with a hub-and-spoke model exploring the possibilities of deliveries in other Smart Village Movement verticals too.
This Smart Village Movement milestone was achieved with our partner Tech Eagle Innovations and the support and visionary thinking of the Government of Meghalaya, launching cutting-edge last-mile medicine delivery solutions to ensure the healthcare of every citizen.
Smart Village Movement in Alliance with UC Berkeley Haas is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit foundation/NGO that brings Governments, Universities, Corporates, and our own resources together in an effort to find innovative solutions to global rural poverty. We advocate for sustainable economic growth by bridging the rural-urban gap and bringing villagers access to digital technology and livelihood training. See some of our active projects in Healthcare, Agriculture, Education, Household here. Visit us at smartvillagemovement.org to learn more.