Drones Are Being Tested in the Fight Against a Tuberculosis Epidemic in Papua New Guinea

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Drones have been trialled by Medecins Sans Frontières (MSF) to combat a centuries-old disease that has crippled communities in one of the most untamed wildernesses on earth.

Papua New Guinea is experiencing an epidemic rate of a disease that most Western countries overcame long ago. Tuberculosis (TB) kills one Papua New Guinean every two hours, and with 15,000 new infections a year, health authorities are struggling to contain the disease as it rages through the remote reaches of the island nation.

“One of the big challenges is difficulty for patients to access a laboratory for a proper diagnosis,” Eric Pujo, program manager for MSF in Papua New Guinea, told VICE News. “We decided to implement a pilot project with a company called Matternet in April 2014, and we contacted them to see what the feasibility would be of using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to bring samples from remote areas to our laboratory for testing.”

MSF this year began to help local authorities tackle TB in the country’s Western Province. According to a Papua New Guinea government mission to the region, the region has one of the worst TB rates anywhere in the world, but it’s the landscape that throws up even bigger challenges.

Source: Vice News (link opens in a new window)

Health Care