Medicine from the Sky Initiative

20 Mar 2023

The Technological breakthrough of Arunachal Pradesh – ‘Medicine from the Sky’ Initiative

The Government of Arunachal Pradesh recently launched the “Medicine from the Sky” project from Seppa in East Kameng District in line with Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s vision to revolutionise services through drone utility and transform India into the world’s Drone Hub. Modi Ji’s vision is aimed at simplifying government service facilitation by boosting efficiency in sectors such as healthcare, agriculture, and disaster management with the use of drones.

Given Arunachal Pradesh’s mountainous terrain and the difficulty of transporting medical supplies by road, particularly during the monsoon season when landslides cut off some areas completely, the “Medicine from the Sky” project will provide a much-needed boost to the healthcare delivery system in the state.

About the Project:

The Medicine from the Sky program is a combined effort by the state government of Arunachal Pradesh and the World Economic Forum whose pilot project was launched in Arunachal Pradesh, on Independence Day, 15 August 2022.

The idea involves employing drones manufactured in India to deliver medicines to primary healthcare facilities. The objective is to document how drone-based supply chains are included in the state’s remote health services. After numerous national pilot projects designed to increase credibility, the Arunachal Pradesh programme focuses on a more comprehensive agenda requiring in-depth operational planning and inspections meant to analyse the response of the state’s healthcare system when combined with drones.

The initiative is built around four pillars –

  • Fundamental healthcare requirements;
  • Ecosystem skill levels, geography, and weather concerns;
  • Survival, scalability, and sustainability;
  • Stress testing of drone platforms.

First Pilot Launch

The first pilot project of “Medicine from the Sky,” a flagship initiative by the Arunachal Pradesh government and the World Economic Forum, was successfully launched in Arunachal Pradesh as a part of the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav celebration on August 15, 2022, from Seppa to Chayang Tajo in East Kameng District. The landmarking event was virtually graced and officially launched by the Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, Shri Pema Khandu, in Seppa. The pilot project has been funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and executed by Bengaluru-based startup Redwing Labs, made possible by the financial and technical support of the SAMRIDH Healthcare Blended Financing Facility, an initiative supported by USAID and implemented by IPE Global.

The initial pilot project aimed to use drone technology to provide diagnostic services and basic medical supplies such as drugs, vaccines, healthcare goods, and other nutritional supplements in Seppa’s tribal and rural communities. People may become stranded in mountainous terrain and need emergency aid due to landslides, natural calamities, and rain. As a result, surface transportation will be reduced and time management will be maintained.

Official Launch across the state:

East Kameng District

In order to reduce the delay and commotion in times of medical emergency in the state’s remote regions, the first delivery of critical medicines from Seppa to a remote location of Bana in Richukrong circle of East Kameng district in Arunachal Pradesh was successfully carried out on November 9, 2022, with a follow-up delivery on November 30, 2022.

Hon’ble Minister of Youth Affairs & Sports, Env & Forest, & Water Resource, Arunachal Pradesh, Shri Mama Natung inaugurated the official launch, covering an 80+ km distance in 30 minutes.

Lower Dibang Valley District

Following this, Arunachal Pradesh’s Lower Dibang Valley district received animal immunisations for the first time via drone delivery from Kangkong to Paglam which was carried out with support from Techeagle Corporation and the Government of India.

Lower Subansiri District – Kra Daadi District

On December 12, 2022, the Hon’ble Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Arunachal Pradesh, Shri Alo Libang, launched the “Drones—Medicine From The Sky (MFTS)” project from Ziro in Lower Subansiri District to Chambang in Kra-Daadi District at Padi Yubbe Outdoor Stadium, Ziro. He flagged off the drone in the presence of the Hon’ble Minister of Agriculture, Horticulture, Fisheries, Veterinary Animal Husbandry, and Dairy Development, Shri Tage Taki. The event was facilitated by the Department of Health and Family Welfare along with the District Administration, the World Economic Forum (WEF), Apollo Hospitals Healthnet Global, the Indian Air Force (Eastern Command), and the ATC Advanced Landing Ground, Ziro.

In overview

Under the direction of the Honourable Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, Shri Pema Khandu, and the Honourable Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, drones are being used as part of the Medicine From The Sky (MFTS) project to deliver medical services across difficult-to-reach, rural, and remote regions of Arunachal Pradesh, and improve “ease of delivery” as well as  foster an innovative culture. This service uses drones to transport essential medical supplies and life-saving pharmaceuticals while reducing travel time. The technology has already been shown to be an effective supplement to the healthcare services provided by Arunachal Pradesh.

The state government, headed by Chief Minister Shri Pema Khandu, aims to deliver medicine by drone in other regions of the state shortly based on the outcomes of these test flights and subject to necessity. Furthermore, to address issues like landslides and other natural occurrences that the Himalayan region is prone to, drones carrying emergency drugs, immunisations, and blood samples will be introduced across the state over the next few years. Throughout the programme, the use of drones to deliver on-demand medical care, diagnostics, and emergency response will also be covered. It will be a great assistance to the soldiers & population residing in border areas that are otherwise hard to reach during the unfavourable climate.

The future of healthcare services will involve the utilisation of drone technology. The initiative’s success in Arunachal Pradesh will serve as a model for internationally applicable integrated drone solutions on terrain of a similar kind.

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