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JIPMER Conducts Drone Trials for Medical Service Delivery

Written by : Jayati Dubey

January 29, 2024

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This initiative is part of a joint effort by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and the NHSRC under a pilot project initiated by the Government of India.

Puducherry's Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER) conducted trials utilising drone technology for delivering medical services to patients in challenging geographical terrains.

This initiative is part of a joint effort by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and the National Health System Resource Centre (NHSRC) under a pilot project initiated by the Government of India.

JIPMER conducted a trial demonstration of drone-delivered emergency medicines to the Community Health Centre (CHC) at Mannadipet, Puducherry. The trial location was identified by the central government, emphasising the strategic planning behind the implementation of drone services.

The demonstration involved a team of JIPMER doctors and staff, along with the CMO of the Community Health Centre and the drone operations team.

The pilot project, aiming to implement drone technology across all Institutes of National Importance (INIs) under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, including JIPMER, is focused on improving the accessibility of healthcare services.

Further, the primary beneficiaries are individuals residing in difficult geographical terrains where conventional medical service delivery may pose challenges.

The successful trial at Mannadipet serves as a preparatory step for the official launch of drone services for medical purposes in all INIs across the country, including JIPMER.

The initiative aligns with the government's vision to leverage technological advancements to overcome geographical barriers and ensure timely medical assistance to remote and inaccessible areas.

Preparations Before the Trial Liftoff

As part of the initiative, two members of a women's self-help group (SHG) from JIPMER underwent a 10-day remote pilot training course approved by the Director General of Civil Aviation.

The training was conducted by Drone Destination, a Gurugram-based company, under the auspices of the NHSRC. The completion of this training equips the SHG staff with the necessary skills to operate drones for medical service deliveries.

Implementing drone technology for medical deliveries holds significant implications for enhancing emergency healthcare services in challenging landscapes.

The efficient and rapid deployment of emergency medicines using drones can potentially save lives, especially in areas where traditional transportation may be hindered.

Moreover, the use of drones for healthcare purposes aligns with the government's commitment to leveraging technology for the benefit of public health. The upcoming official launch across INIs is anticipated to showcase further the potential and effectiveness of drone technology in the healthcare sector.

Rising Trend of Drone Technology

The potential of drones in healthcare is becoming increasingly vital, especially for rapidly delivering vaccines, medicines, and essential supplies to isolated regions during emergencies.

Recently, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Bhubaneswar, conducted experimental drone delivery trials to provide healthcare services in Odisha. The trial involved a drone completing a round trip of 120 km from AIIMS Bhubaneswar to the Community Health Centre (CHC) Tangi and back in 1.10 hrs, carrying essential blood supplies weighing approximately 2kg.

In a similar development, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) announced their venturing into drone technology for healthcare in the Lahaul and Spiti districts of Himachal Pradesh in alignment with India's drone ecosystem development initiative.

The ICMR project aims to optimise the distribution of crucial medical resources from regional hospitals in Keylong to more than eight primary health centres (PHCs) in the area, covering various locations such as Sissu, Gondhal, Thiort, Tholang, Jahalma, Gemur, Darcha, and Shansha.

In October, a Parliamentary Panel that assessed the implementation of the Pradhan Mantri TB Mukt Bharat Abhiyan (PMTBMBA), following a successful model implemented in Himachal Pradesh, proposed using drones to transport TB samples and drugs in challenging terrains.


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