New Delhi: In a bid to improve healthcare accessibility, the central government on Monday (October 4) launched i-Drone, a drone-based vaccine delivery model for Northeast states developed by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
i-Drone, which stands for ICMR’s Drone Response and Outreach in North East, aims to facilitate vaccine delivery to tough and hard-to-reach terrains of India.
Launching the initiative, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said, “India is home to geographical diversities and drones can be used to deliver essentials to the last mile. We can use drones in delivering important life-saving medicines, collecting blood samples. This technology can also be used in critical situations. This technology may prove a game changer in addressing the challenges in health care delivery, particularly health supplies in difficult areas.”
“Our immunisation program for COVID-19 has already exceeded all expectations. I strongly believe that this initiative will further help us achieve the highest possible immunisation coverage for COVID-19. Incorporating such drone technologies into the national programs would help deliver other vaccines and medical supplies as quickly as possible,” he added.
The i-Drone has been designed to overcome these challenges by deploying Unmanned Aerial vehicles (UAV) or drones to remote areas and hard-to-reach terrains. Currently, the drone-based delivery project has been granted permission for implementation in Manipur and Nagaland, as well as union territory of Andaman and Nicobar Island.
ICMR conducted an initial study in collaboration with Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur to test the capacity of drones to carry and transfer vaccines safely. The study was conducted in Manipur, Nagaland and Andaman and Nicobar. These studies provided promising results on the basis of which the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA), Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and other regulatory authorities granted permission to fly drones beyond the Visual Line Of Sight.
Mandaviya expressed confidence in the initiative and noted that this initiative can be helpful in delivering not only the vaccines but also other medical supplies.