Manipur, a northeastern state of India, has begun distributing medications with unmanned aerial vehicles(UAV) after using drones to distribute COVID-19 vaccines. On October 9, drones were used to distribute medicines in Churachandpur, Manipur.
The drone travelled from Churachandpur’s Health and Wellness Center to Bishnupur’s District Hospital, then on to PHC Phayeng. It contained 1,200 iron-folic acid tablets, enough to last a month, which were provided to 40 women in Antenatal Care (ANC) at PHC Pheyang.
The entire delivery procedure was automated. The medication box was mounted to the drone by the drone pilot.
“Churachandpur health and wellness centre (storage site) was just by the roadside of the take off site at Churachandpur. The District Family Welfare Officer (DFWO), Churachandpur provided 1,200 tablets of Ferrous and folic acid tablets for transportation via drone,” said Dr Sumit Aggarwal, Scientist and Program Officer, Co-PI, I Drone project, Division of ECD.
He further said that the drone covered about 29 km in the first flight.
“On October 6, the longest flight was for 26 km. On October 9 the drone completed 29 km (Churachandpur to Bishnupur )+ 26 km (Bishnupur to Phayeng) aerial distance, in a total of 64 minutes (34 minutes + 30minutes),” Dr Sumit added.
The drone flight parameters and the medicine box remained intact. They were delivered safely to PHC-Phayeng.
The Telangana government’s ‘Medicine from the Sky’ initiative, which uses drones to distribute medications to remote locations, was started on September 11th.
Medicines were also verified and certified by doctors, Auxiliary nurse midwives (ANM), and police officers.
“There was no one from the ICMR present during the supply procedure. All of the actions were carried out by healthcare workers and drone operators from Manipur. There was no ICMR personnel present during the distribution of drugs, but ICMR provided training and oversight “ICMR’s Head of Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases Division, Dr. Samiran Panda, stated.
The team from ICMR Headquarter includes Project in-charge Dr Samiran Panda, from Manipur the field manager is Dr Sumit Aggarwal and documents and ATC clearance is done by Dr Prakmya Gupta while training imparted by Dr S Balaji and assessment is done by Dr Nupur Mahajan.