Drone : Until roughly a year ago, taking medicines to the Pedaldoba Primary Health Centre (PHC) in Meghalaya’s West Garo Hills area was a difficult process. Things haven’t gotten much better in the last year, especially for the five accessibility-challenged PHC sub-centers.
On December 5, the Pedaldoba PHC will receive a shipment of drugs, vaccinations, and other healthcare supplies delivered by a Vertiplane X3, a customized drone from what is thought to be India’s first drone station developed for medical purposes.
The drone station is located near the Jengjal Sub-divisional Hospital. It is around 69 kilometers from Pedaldoba and 32 kilometers from Tura, the District Headquarters, and the main town on Meghalaya’s western side. A trial project was launched in response, and drones were flown from a civil hospital to two PHCs in the State’s West Khasi Hills district on November 26, 2021. These PHCs are among the most difficult to access.
The concept’s success prompted the State government to begin the development of the Jengjal Drone Station. It will be launched on Monday by Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma. Once operational, the drone station will serve as an efficient mode of transportation for all rural healthcare facilities within a 50-kilometer radius. Seven of the 55 settlements are only accessible on foot.
Meghalayan health officials claimed the drone station would transfer vaccines, medicines, diagnostic tests, blood units, and other medical supplies to and from remote healthcare facilities during the first year. The drone station would serve 25 PHCs. Five of these PHCs have been identified for the initial phase, with service beginning immediately following the launch. Officials stated the other 20 facilities would be finalized after the ongoing site reconnaissance was concluded.
According to officials, five to eight drone flights would be conducted every day, depending on demand. There are plans to set up similar drone stations in strategic spots around the state. It is mainly to reach the 79% of Meghalaya residents who live in rural regions, they noted.
This month, the Health Department plans over 1,000 drone missions in Shimla, Chamba, Sirmaur, and Kullu districts to collect data for enhanced service comprehension and utilization. Aside from employing drones in medicine, the government is looking at the idea of using them to monitor unlawful tree felling, mining, and agriculture. A drone was successfully deployed to transfer an apple box from a high-altitude orchard. It went to the nearest road in Nichar hamlet in Kinnaur district some time ago. However, the business viability of using a drone to transport apples must be addressed.
Drones in agriculture can be used to monitor crop and soil health, as well as spray pesticides and fertilizer. It has been learned that Agriculture Department officials recently employed a drone on an experimental basis to sprinkle fertilizer on paddy in the Balh and Sundernagar areas of the Mandi district.
National Health Mission Statement
The sorties began last month in Janjheli, Mandi district. We will shortly begin sorties in four more districts to collect enough data. This will be used to analyze and evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of the program. Then we will develop our policies appropriately.
The initial experiments of drone service have been completed by the Health Department. The preliminary experiments were a success. We believe it will be a valuable complement to healthcare services in the state’s most distant and difficult places. Further right now, we’re simply figuring out how to best use it in different places based on our needs.
The drone uses will include delivering drugs, vaccines, and medical supplies. This will be going to health institutions in remote and difficult places that are difficult to reach by car. Additionally, these health institutions can send back things like medical samples in drones for testing at larger health centers. The drones successfully carried payloads ranging from 5 kg to 10 kg throughout the trials.
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