Himansu Shekhar Rout

The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Bhubaneswar scripted a new chapter after launching healthcare delivery services by drones on Thursday, two days after its trial run. 

During the launch, blood pouches were sent by a drone to the Tangi CHC. In times of emergencies, it will be easier for AIIMS to deliver medicines, testing kits, and other healthcare tools through drones to patients in other hospitals, or people in hilly areas. 

It is often seen that traffic problems crop up during natural disasters like floods and cyclones and in hilly & inaccessible areas. In such scenarios, sending medicines and tool kits to people is a difficult proposition. Hence, drone-supported delivery is expected to come in handy.

A drone, to be run and controlled by satellite GPS, can carry medicines and tools weighing two to five kg at a time to a place within a 100-km distance. The drone can be tracked live.

During the trial run of the drone-assisted delivery on Tuesday, a blood sample from AIIMS was successfully delivered to an outreach centre at Tangi, 80 km away, in 37 minutes.  

Dr. Ashutosh Biswas, Executive Director (ED) of AIIMS-Bhubaneswar said, "Drone-supported delivery is not time-consuming. If we are alerted about any emergency just half an hour before, we will get things ready to deliver materials and medicines in drones within prescribed distances. In emergency situations, during floods and cyclones, and even in accidents, people need blood and oxygen. We can deliver our service by drones at that time.”

“We have a control room which has been technically equipped to operate the drones. Drone delivery services will be expanded gradually,” he said.   

A technical person associated with the initiative said, “A drone will take 37 minutes to deliver medicines or anything within an aerial distance of 55 km. Tangi is 65 km by road. If we send anything by road to Tangi, it will take one and a half hours or more. The drone’s speed is 80 to 90 kmph.”

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