Manipur has begun distributing medications with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) after using drones to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine. On Saturday, October 9, drones were used to distribute medicines in Churachandpur, Manipur.
The drone travelled from Churachandpur's Health and Wellness Center to Bishnupur's District Hospital, then on to PHC Phayeng. It contained 1,200 iron-folic acid tablets, enough to last a month, which were provided to 40 women in Antenatal Care (ANC) at PHC Pheyang. The entire delivery procedure was automated. The medication box was mounted to the drone by the drone pilot.
"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.
Dr Sumit Aggarwal, Scientist and Program Officer of Drone project went on to say that the first flight of the drone reached roughly 29 kilometres. Dr Sumit noted, "On October 6, the longest flight was for 26 km. On October 9 the drone completed 29 km (Churachandpur to Bishnupur )+ 26 km (Bishnupur to Phayeng) aerial distance, in a total of 64 minutes (34 minutes + 30minutes)."
The medicine box and the drone flying settings remained unharmed. They arrived at PHC-Phayeng in good condition. The Telangana government's 'Medicine from the Sky' initiative, which uses drones to distribute medications to remote locations, was also started on September 11. Medicines were also verified and certified by doctors, Auxiliary nurse midwives (ANM), and police officers.
"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 same by ICMR," said Dr Samiran Panda, Head of Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases Division, ICMR.
Project in-charge Dr Samiran Panda leads the team from ICMR headquarters, while Dr Sumit Aggarwal leads the team from Manipur. Dr Prakmya Gupta handles the documentation and ATC approval, while Dr S Balaji provides training and Dr Nupur Mahajan conducts the evaluation.
Last week, a drone carried immunizations to residents of Manipur's 'floating islands' in Loktak Lake, becoming India the first country in Southeast Asia to do so. 'Floating islands' are bits of hardened algae that float in Manipur's Moirang district's freshwater lake, said reports. The vaccines were successfully supplied from Manipur's Bhishnupur to Karang Island via Loktak Lake by the country's premier medical organisation, the ICMR. In the following days, officials aim to use drones to distribute vaccines to two other districts in Manipur, reports added.
With inputs from ANI