Drone Deliveries of Blood Could Transform Healthcare in Africa

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

While those words have traditionally been the unofficial motto of the U.S. Postal Service, they may apply just as well to the world’s first drone delivery service operating at a national scale–in Rwanda. That only sounds like an odd place for such a service to take flight until you hear what these 22-lb. custom-built autonomous airplanes are delivering: blood.

In this east African country nearly the size of Maryland, an estimated 325 pregnant women per 100,000 die each year, often from postpartum hemorrhage. That’s somewhere about around 15 times the rate in the U.S., according to the CDC and the WHO. Many of these deaths are preventable if the women receive blood in time for a life-saving transfusion. But that’s a tall order in a country with inadequate infrastructurefor delivering a product that has strict temperature requirements and spoils quickly.

Enter Zipline, a robotics company based in California that has just begun negotiating directly with African countries’ governments to deliver medical supplies with drones. Zipline CEO Keller Rinaudo has built “an instant delivery system for the world, allowing medicines and other products to be delivered on-demand and at low cost, anywhere,” he explained.

Source: Forbes (link opens in a new window)

Health Care
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