In a first in a hilly terrain like Uttarakhand, an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), popularly called drone, successfully carried blood sample from a primary health centre in Tehri’s Nandgaon to the district hospital in Baurari.
On June 5, the Tehri district administration, in collaboration with CDSpace Robotics Private Limited, a start-up by IIT Kanpur alumni Nikhil Upadhye and Krishnaraj, carried out the test where a blood sample was transported between the two healthcare centres in 18 minutes. Considering the difficult terrain, the sample would take at least two hours by road to reach Baurari, which is 32 km from Nandgaon.
Dr S S Pangty, in-charge of Baurari district hospital, said, “The experiment was carried out under the ‘555’ telemedicine scheme in Tehri, which was initiated two years ago. The idea to use drones for healthcare services was of the (Tehri) district magistrate.”
Tehri District Magistrate Sonika told The Indian Express that she had been trying to engage drones for healthcare services after learning about similar initiatives in other countries.
“I wanted to engage drones for healthcare services. That’s why I entered into talks with the start-up (CDSpace Robotics). It is a pilot project, so the team didn’t charge us money. We gave them all administrative support for the experiment. Now that it is successful, I have suggested some changes in the drone,” Sonika said, adding that more experiments checking viability of transporting blood samples and medicines will be carried out in Tehri from July.
Upadhye said the drones can carry weight up to 500 gm over 50 km. “In the blood sample that was transported, we maintained cold chain with specialised ice pouch during flight. The drone was carrying 350 gm,” Upadhye said.
The cost of one such drone is Rs 10-12 lakh, he added.