Gaborone – Botswana has become the first country in Southern African to use drones to accelerate the reduction of preventable maternal deaths by delivering health supplies and commodities to remote areas.
The medical drone delivery service will serve health centres and people in hard-to-reach communities with blood for transfusions and other medical necessities such as obstetric care drugs.
Botswana’s maternal mortality rate is around 144 per 100,000, with the main cause being post-partum bleeding, hypertensive conditions and septic infections.
The Drones for Health pilot project is a tripartite arrangement between Botswana International University of Science & Technology (BIUST), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and Dutch aero-tech firm Avy. It is being co-ordinated by the Health and Wellness Ministry.
Health Minister Dr Edwin Dikoloti said of the project, “It will also manage the delivery of efficient, appropriate, accessible, responsive and evidence-based health services at district level.
“It gives me hope that with these kind of partnerships and initiatives, our country may be on course to achieve many SDG targets that we were not able to achieve.”
Dr Dikoloti said the Government of Botswana was committed to the use of drones for health service delivery to close the medical supplies transportation gaps in the country’s health system.
The company that was instrumental in the manufacturing of the unmanned aerial vehicles being used in Botswana’s programme, Avy, said its technology was up 65 percent faster than traditional means of getting medical products to some communities.
Botswana is the third country in Africa to implement such a project after Rwanda and Ghana, who are both using Zipline drones.