Imphal : What you can say as an achievement using technology, the tiny Northeastern state Manipur has proved it. The hill state has now started delivering medicines in the far flung areas using unmanned aerial vehicles or drones. After supplying COVID-19 vaccines with the help of drones, Manipur has now started delivering medicines with drones in its Churachandpur district.
The test delivery of medicines with the help of drones was conducted on October 9 at Churachandpur.
The test delivery of medicines using drones was done between the Health and Wellness centre at Churachandpur to District Hospital in Bishnupur and then went ahead to PHC Phayeng. It carried 1,200 Iron folic acid tablets that were given to 40 women in Antenatal Care (ANC) at PHC Pheyang, which is said to suffice for one month. The complete process of the delivery was automated. The drone pilot attached the medicine box to the drone.
“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.
The drone covered about 29 km in the first flight. On October 6, the longest flight was 26 km. On October 9 the drone completed 29 km which is the aerial distance between Churachandpur and Bishnupur and further 26 km from Bishnupur to Phayeng. It took the drone 64 minutes for the round trip, Manipur health department officials said.
The drone flight parameters and the medicine box remained intact. They were delivered safely to PHC-Phayeng.The verification and certification of medicines by doctors, Auxiliary nurse midwives (ANM) and police officers was also done.
“During the supplying process, no ICMR person was present. All the activities were conducted by Manipur healthcare workers and drone operators. During the supply of medicines, there was no team from ICMR, but the training and monitoring have been provided for the same by ICMR,” said Dr Samiran Panda, Head of Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases Division, ICMR.
The Manipur government says that this initiative is a need of the hour. The state has many far flung and remote hill areas, where the new "Medicine on Sky '' technology will be very helpful to provide medicine and basic healthcare facilities using the drones. Once fully operational, the medicine delivery through drones will be a very handy system in the entire Northeast, looking at the region's hilli terrain.