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Uganda Joins African Nations Using Drones to Deliver Life Saving Medical Supplies to More Than 22 Million People


Makerere University Institute of Infectious Diseases

On the 84 remote islands that make up Uganda’s Kalangala district on the surface of Lake Victoria, medical experts are tackling one of Africa’s worst provincial HIV crises with the help of cargo drones.

Uganda is not alone in the project, as Rwanda and Ghana also use medical supply drones to reach distant communities, and together the technology promises a faster and more reliable way to deliver life-saving medicines and supplies to more than 22 million Africans.

The use of these drones is called a “game changer”, and although Victoria is a lake, it is so large that a passenger ferry takes 16 hours to cross it. Adding up the stopover and sailing time around the islands and trying to distribute medical supplies by boat becomes a huge task.

With around 67,000 inhabitants, the Lake Victoria Islands have an HIV incidence rate of 18%, well above the national average of 5.6%. Bringing antiretroviral drugs to HIV-positive patients can prevent the virus from paralyzing the immune system, and the 4.5-foot wingspan of cargo drones can carry one kilogram of these supplies at a time, over a distance of about 150 kilometers (105 miles). .

Developed by the Uganda Health Innovation Academy And at a cost of around $ 5,500 each, the drones were launched last week for the first time and will continue to supply 78 separate community groups and health facilities on the widely dispersed Ssese Islands, with around 200 scheduled flights per month.

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“The use of medical drones is a big step for us as a health sector in improving service delivery, especially in hard-to-reach areas,” said Ugandan Director General of Health Services Henry Mwebesa. according to the guardian. “It’s very useful. Once it’s successful, we can adopt it for other facilities and replicate it elsewhere.”

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“Thanks to the support and coordination of our partners, including Johnson & Johnson, this program will help gather the information and data necessary to help make this future a reality, while helping to provide life-saving care to women. people in need, ”said Parkes-Ratanshi, project manager for the Academy.

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