Shillong, Dec 6 (IANS): Meghalaya will begin utilising larger drones from March 2023 to deliver up to 25 kg of medicines, anti-snake venom vials and other healthcare necessities in the remote, mountainous and far-flung areas to save time and costs, officials said on Tuesday.
Director of the Meghalaya Health Systems Strengthening Project, Ramkumar S said that the state government unveiled the northeast region's first drone delivery hub and network, in partnership with TechEagle, one of the fastest-growing drone delivery startups.
The project started with the launch of Asia's first drone delivery hub built at the Jengjal Sub-Divisional Hospital in West Garo Hills district on Monday afternoon by thr state's Health and Family Welfare Minister James P.K. Sangma.
The first official drone flight took off from the hospital and delivered medicines to Padeldoba primary health centre in less than 30 minutes which would have otherwise taken 2.5 hours by road.
Sangma said: "We are seeing something that is unparalleled in any place of the world. It is a matter of pride for the state of Meghalaya that we would be the first state to institutionalise this initiative and have a system that can be expanded to other areas of the state as well."
Ramkumar S said that the ground-breaking effort intends to improve the universal access to healthcare in the state by delivering vital supplies like drugs, diagnostic samples, vaccines, blood and blood components quickly and safely to different regions of the state using a dedicated drone delivery network.
He said that the project aimed at providing access to life-saving drugs and other medical essentials to far-flung and hard-to-reach areas of the state.
TechEagle's Vertiplane X3 Drone delivered different healthcare products including Snake venom-2 pax, Labetalol- 4 pax, Human Albumin-1 pax, Cefotaxime (typhoid dose)-50 pax in its first flight which was five times faster in comparison to ground transportation.
The significant challenges in last-mile delivery call for an approach to revolutionize the conventional delivery system.
With the northeast's first drone delivery network, the solution provided by TechEagle overcomes the problem of lack of visibility, high delivery costs, outdated technology and inaccessibility through roads and railway networks.
CEO and Founder of TechEagle, Vikram Singh said: "Transforming the logistics and healthcare supply chain is at the heart of TechEagle's vision and this initiative is a first big step forward in the direction of achieving the goal of universal access to healthcare and logistics across the world."
Jengjal, 32 km from West Garo Hills district headquarters Tura, Meghalaya's largest urban centre after capital Shillong, was made as a strategic drone station for delivery of medicines and healthcare necessities to remote and rural healthcare facilities within a radius of 50 km.
The station was established almost a year after a pilot project to deliver drugs by drones was undertaken successfully from a civil hospital to two primary health centres in West Khasi Hills district in November 2021.