Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has successfully conducted a trial run of blood bag delivery using drones under its i-DRONE (ICMR’s Drone Response and Outreach for Northeast) initiative.
The i-DRONE initiative was during COVID-19 pandemic for distributing vaccines to hard-to-reach areas. The trial flight carried 10 units of whole blood samples from Greater Noida to New Delhi. The initiative was in continuance with the national mission of expanding the drone ecosystem in India. After the successful completion of the service, blood delivery through drones can be expanded to the whole country, said a senior ICMR official.
“Today, we are transporting blood and blood-related products which are supposed to be kept at a low temperature. After the experiment, we found that not only can we maintain the temperature but there was also no damage to the products transported, said ICMR Director General Dr Rajiv Bahl. “We sent another sample through an ambulance and if there are no differences in the samples sent using the two modes then drones will be used all over India.”
Countries world over are already using drones to deliver blood products, vaccines, pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, and even organs to remote, rural areas or areas with poor infrastructure. For example, in Ghana, drone delivery of blood is now available for thousands of health facilities serving millions of people.