How drones are saving lives in Rwanda


How drones are saving lives in Rwanda
Zipline drone PHOTO| COURTESY

Have you ever wondered if there was a way to transport vital products such as blood, medicine or even vaccines to inaccesible areas across the country? Well, that is possible.

A company based in Rwanda is manufacturing drones that carry these items within an 80-kilometre radius therefore saving lives.

The drone swiftly cuts through the wind, flapping away like a toy, carrying a life-and-death product that would determine the well-being of a patient. It mimics an aeroplane from its model and its work, but its weight does not allow it to carry passengers.

Unlike most drones used in the film industry to take aerial shots of places, this is a drone that is used purely to transport blood, medicine and vaccines to far flung hospitals within Rwanda.

It uses electricity to operate, travelling at a speed of 100km/per hour.

“We use small autonomous aircrafts to deliver blood, medicines, vaccines to very far distances. We have half of the business dealing with medical supplies,” explains Zipline Head of Global Operations, Dan Czerwonka.

With its assembly plant in the US, Zipline company has set base in Rwanda and Ghana through the facilitation of the government in conjunction with the Ministry of health.

Once the drone takes off, an SMS alert is sent to the recipient of the package who then receives it in a matter of minutes.

“The aircraft will then drop the package by a parachute then return back home. And at that point the medical technician will retrieve the parachute package and then return home,” adds Czerwonka.

When it touches down, a nurse is sent to receive the very urgent package and quickly rushes the medicine or blood to the patient who is in dire need of it.

“Several entities benefit especially the ministry of health and the hospitals. If there is an emergency situation the hospital can ask for it and it’s there in minutes,” says Czewrwonka.

With a population of 11 million, Rwanda may be a small country of a thousand hills compared to its sister Kenya, this making the transport swift with no limitations to different weather conditions.

The drone has already completed over 11, 500 trips, revolutionizing the medical industry through technology and the blessings of the local civil aviation company.

‘The civil aviation route tells us what areas we need to avoid, it could be military bases and VIP areas,” he says.

Statistics have shown that hundreds of women across the globe lose their lives while bringing life on this earth because of haemorrhage. This innovation has ensured that maternal deaths and infant mortalities are reduced or in other cases averted, this way children are brought in the company of the special care giver — their mothers.

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Story By Saida Swaleh
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