How Drones May Become Instrumental in South Africa’s Health Services
By Siyabonga Kamnqa
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as drones, have been used for more than two decades to deliver medical supplies and food aid to disaster-hit areas – and new uses for these devices are constantly being found.
In countries such as Rwanda and Ghana, logistics companies like Zipline have developed and currently operate drones that deliver much-needed medical supplies to rural hospitals. Such distribution solutions may also have a role to play in rural parts of South Africa where roads are often poor. But drones can potentially function as much more than just unmanned, flying delivery vehicles.
The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) is currently evaluating the use of drone technology in the fight against malaria, says Professor Rajendra Maharaj, Director of the SAMRC’s Office of Malaria Research.
“One of the main objectives is to include larval (the aquatic phase of the mosquito life cycle) control in addition to the use of indoor residual spraying,” he says. “To control the larvae, we need to find the mosquito breeding sites which are small bodies of water, including temporary pools of water such as in roadside ditches and puddles of water around and under vegetation.
Photo courtesy of Andrew Turner.