In a landmark move on Wednesday, November 9, the first-ever drone took to the skies to deliver essential medicines from Seppa to a remote region of Bana located in Richukrong circle of East Kameng district in Arunachal Pradesh. The Pema Khandu government and the WEF had signed a Memorandum of Understanding to jointly explore the possibility of using drones for medical logistics this year, and the first drone took off to ensure the delivery of life-saving drugs to the inaccessible terrain of the state. The trial for the delivery had taken place a few days ago, but Wednesday's delivery was the first, successfully made in the East Kameng district.
Drone-based drug delivery system a 'game changer'
East Kameng district has a hilly terrain and difficult roads that make it challenging to access interior areas on foot or via a vehicle. The situation is particularly worsened during monsoon season, the district magistrate Pravimal Abhishek Polumatla had earlier reportedly explained. The state mulled starting a drone-based drug delivery system that they described would be a game changer in making healthcare services accessible in remote areas.
The vertical take-off and landing drones have been designed and manufactured in India and were based out of the district headquarters in Seppa. The drone delivery of medicines is the first automated healthcare drone supply system that was implemented for the well-being of the rural population. It also connects the healthcare centers to the districts, and drones were tested to deliver the logistics faster than the road-based supply methods.
A Bengaluru-based private drone manufacturing and services startup Redwing Aerospace kick-started the pilot test of a drone services network to deliver medicines to the remote town of Seppa in East Kameng district, Arunachal Pradesh in August this year. The project was backed by Samridh Healthcare Blended Financing Facility, and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The initiative was launched under the World Economic Forum (WEF)’s and was labelled ‘Medicines From The Sky.’ The government of Arunachal Pradesh became the stakeholder in the initiative for the drone network trial for the state’s remote and inaccessible areas. The project was a continuation of visual line of sight (BVLOS) drone delivery trials that kicked off in Telangana with the partnership of WEF.