Namibia launches project to use drones to provide medical services

OLD BETHPAGE, NY - SEPTEMBER 05: A drone is flown for recreational purposes in the sky above Old Bethpage, New York on September 5, 2015. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Namibia in partnership with John Hopkins University launched a project which will see the country use drones to bring medical services closer to people in far-off and difficult-to-reach places, an official said on Saturday.

FILE PHOTO: A drone in flight. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

According to the Namibia Institute of Pathology (NIP), the organization that will spearhead the initiative, the project aims to use drones for the delivery of cold-chain and non-cold-chain medical commodities, patient testing samples, testing kits including COVID-19 testing kits, medical supplies, vaccines and other medicines to and from five local health clinics in the northeast Zambezi region.

“The service which will be tested for a period of four months is envisaged to remove obstacles such as annual floods that make roads inaccessible for periods of up to six months. Floods in the Zambezi region often cut communities off from access to vital health and laboratory diagnostic services,” NIP said.

NIP said all five clinics earmarked for the trial run have access to a steady power supply from solar panels which are not powerful enough to run deep freezers but can be used to charge electronics such as drone batteries.

“The drones that will be used in the trial run must have a capacity to carry a minimum net weight of 1.5 kilograms for a distance of at least 70 kilometers without landing, recharging or refueling,” NIP said.

The central hub which is in Katima Mulilo will be used as a landing, maintenance and recharging center for the drones, NIP said.