The World Economic Forum (WEF) is currently running trials using drones to deliver vaccines to rural populations in India.
“In India, there is an urgency for the public and private sectors to collaborate on drone applications to improve healthcare equity in rural areas,” an article from the WEF reads. “The World Economic Forum’s Medicine from the Sky initiative is accelerating the transformation from inefficient health supply chains to digital, resilient infrastructure that reduces wastage and improves health outcomes.”
According to the Forum, the organization has made over 300 vaccine delivery trials and now plans to expand the project’s scope. Besides getting more vaccines into the arms of Indians, the Forum also wants to start using drones to deliver more efficacious supplies, such as blood and snake anti-venom, which are commonly needed in rural areas.
Data collection is also a major part of the initiative, particularly geospatial data on India’s rural terrain.
The WEF has also cited US organ transport trials and is working out the logistics of transferring organs by drone, arguing that traffic congestion and the time-sensitive nature of organ transplants make drone delivery systems a worthwhile potential solution to explore.
So far, the Medicine from the Sky initiative has only been implemented in the state of Telangana, which has been making regulatory changes to facilitate the WEF’s initiative since 2019.
“Drone use provides the opportunity to support our traditional approaches to healthcare delivery, especially in under-served or remote regions of the country,” said Sangita Reddy, Apollo Hospitals Group’s Joint Managing Director. “Our healthcare sector could potentially witness large-scale deliveries of long-tail medicines, vaccines, blood and vital organs throughout the country across terrains with drones in action.”
As part of the WEF’s 2030 agenda, the Forum says they want to ensure that all remote health facilities are drone capable and hopes to replicate their drone program in developing countries around the world.