Nowadays drones are making their mark in many major fields, from providing aid to disaster-stricken areas to commercial packages and food delivery. Healthcare sector is also looking forward to explore the possible use of drones in delivering vaccines, medications and blood samples right to the source as fast as possible which can save many lives, lost due to lack of medical facilities, especially in remote areas.
How drones can change healthcare
Drones can be put in use to deliver vaccines in poor countries which might reduce the transportation cost and in turn improving vaccination rates. According to the research led by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, the price of routine immunizations is expected to rise by 80 percent between 2010 and 2020. Using drones for supply purpose would mean eliminating the maximum cost of transportation, resulting in an affordable price of vaccines for the needy.
Drones can also act as a savior in time-critical situations. Google in 2016 had taken a step towards providing the medical facility on time by introducing a new device which could call for a drone in case of emergency with just the press of a button saving lives of many in an emergency.
The device can also play a vital role in delivering samples to laboratories that are far away from the collection areas. In many parts of Madagascar drones such as Vayu are being used to carry blood and stool samples for testing in the laboratories that are quite far from the remote areas.
Likewise, in Malawi where one in 10 people is HIV positive, drones are being put in use for faster results which could not be possible through road vehicles.
A year ago, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in a report stated that in every ten minutes someone is added to the organ transplant list and the toll rises to 117,660. EHang, an American drone company with Lung Biotechnology PBC have agreed to work together in order to provide a solution by creating the Manufactured Organ Transport Helicopter system which will revolutionize the way organs are transported in the US that will be helpful in saving thousands of lives through on-time delivery of organs.
Though drones are effectively providing their services in the medical sector still there are certain roadblocks. Drones have a limited range of about 20 to 60 miles. Technical advancement is still required to make them more comprehensive.
Another hindrance is lack of advanced types of equipment in drones. For example, in the case of blood transport, coolers would be required to keep blood products at the proper temperature. Blood would also need to be packaged to prevent inadvertent exposure.
These obstacles should be removed as soon as possible for ensuring better health facilities to those areas which are far away from cities having high tech medical potential.
But still we cannot ignore how drones are changing the medical world and the best example of it is set in Rawanda which is the most underprivileged country in terms of basic amenities. There the UPS foundation Zipline and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance have joined hands to transport blood and vaccines to rural areas through drones. People are now getting proper treatment as well as the medical infrastructure is also coming on proper track which can be made possible by drone technology. It would not be an exaggeration to state that the use of unmanned aerial vehicles in healthcare holds great promise and will bring great possibilities in this sector.