New Delhi: On the occasion of India’s 76th Independence Day, the World Economic Forum (WEF) Monday launched its flagship initiative called ‘Medicine from the sky’ (MFTS) in Arunachal Pradesh.
A six-month project, this initiative aims to utilise drones to provide superior healthcare services to tribal and rural communities in Seppa, a town in East Kameng district of the state.
The healthcare programme aims to focus on the basic healthcare needs like vaccine services and nutrition supplements, along with emergency medications and diagnostic services.
The project is a collaborative effort by the government of Arunachal Pradesh, WEF and Redwing Labs, with funding support from SAMRIDH Healthcare Blended Financing Facility – an initiative supported by the United States Agency for International Development and implemented by IPE Global.
Vignesh Santhanam, lead, aerospace and drones at WEF, said the main area of focus was to “stress-test systems in Arunachal Pradesh under the liberalised drone regime on two bell-weather districts – East Kameng and Lower Subansiri”.
One-of-its kind initiative
The project will look at the survivability and sustainability of the drone systems on the state’s terrains and their capacity to ascertain weather conditions.
To increase local youth participation and awareness, the District Collector of East Kameng District, Pravimal Abhishek, has called on the heads of villages to nominate “drone ambassadors” and has also organised essay-writing competitions.
“Drone-based drug delivery will be a game-changer in strengthening access to healthcare in such remote areas and would serve the remote areas by offering access to diagnostics, essential medicines and vaccines,” Abhishek said.
Drone-based healthcare delivery
Drone-based deliveries in healthcare began in India in 2021 in states such as Telangana, Nagaland, Manipur, Meghalaya, Odisha and Uttarakhand.
Speaking about the initiative in Arunachal Pradesh, Santhanam said that a field study in the state had shown “drones were an absolute necessity”.
By enabling care at the local level, the drone network aims to reduce out-of-pocket expenditure for patients that would lead to an increase in immunisation rates too.