UNICEF and the Malawian government are testing a service of transporting blood samples by drone to accelerate the detection of HIV in infants and thus heal faster.
In Malawi, many children are born to HIV positive mothers and quality of care that can be given to them depends on how quickly a diagnosis is established. And to know their health status, one must send a blood sample from the health center where these children are born to a certified laboratory.
Currently, it takes about ten days for the packages to arrive by road and eight weeks to get the result.
This is where the drones come in.
These could be a good alternative to road transport and seriously shorten the long period. Road transport requires a vehicle, fuel and driver, which may seem easy to come by in most developing countries, but is a different story in the heart of Africa... while the use of drones requires only programming and well-charged batteries.
A first test flight showed the feasibility of the project, the drone traveled in twenty minutes the ten kilometers between a rural clinic and the Kamuzu Central Hospital. Other test flights will take place until March 18 to assess in particular the cost and safety of the project.
"Each year, approximately 10,000 children die from diseases related to HIV", says a UNICEF representative in a statement. "The drones could be a good way to overcome these transportation issues and allow children to start treatment in time."