The Infectious Diseases Institute at Makerere University, with funding and technical assistance from the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), officially launches a project to pilot the use of medical drone technology in the West Nile districts of Moyo and Adjumani. This project will support surveillance mechanisms, early reporting of any health threats or outbreak indicators within the systems, including rapid response to COVID-19.
Drone technology has the potential to solve several challenges that make the delivery of health care services particularly difficult in the West Nile. With geographical barriers like difficult terrains and very remote areas, drones can solve a piece of the logistical puzzle. They can transport test samples within drastically reduced timelines, kickstarting timely treatments. The project will be using two different drone types; a multi-rotor for short distances, up to 30km, and a fixed-wing drone for longer distances; over 30km.
This research project will assess the efficiency and effectiveness of drone deliveries as a viable solution for Uganda’s health sector. This is done in close collaboration with the health service teams on the ground, to ensure that the drones actually solve part of the puzzle, contributing to the sustainability of this solution.
The support from UNCDF provides the much-needed push to advance technological innovations in the healthcare system, focusing at the local level. The project is part of UNCDF strategy of ‘Leaving No One Behind in the Digital Era’ funded by SIDA, Sweden’s government agency for development cooperation.
“The use of drone technology to improve access to health care complements our existing work in the health sector around improving the community health service delivery, and stock and supply chain management of essential drugs and medical supplies at the last mile. This also complements the work done by UNCDF under the Development Initiative for Northern Uganda Programme to improve the road infrastructure in Northern Uganda and West Nile” said Chris Lukolyo, UNCDF Digital Lead in Uganda.
The medical drones project is being implemented in close coordination with the West Nile region Local Government leadership and is being supported by a collaboration including the Ministry of Health of Uganda, Makerere University, UNCDF, and the Academy for Health Innovation Uganda. Support and approvals have been given by the Ministry of Defence and Civil Aviation Authority. It builds on the experience of Infectious Diseases Institute using medical drones to deliver HIV drugs in hard-to-reach areas in Kalangala district.
“This research project will evaluate COVID-19 sample transport by medical drones. It is the first step in developing the use of …….