The World Bank president, Dr Jim Yong Kim has hailed the Zipline International Project in Muhanga district delivering blood to remote areas and called it the best example of optimally taking advantage of technology.
After taking him through the process of flying a drone carrying blood yesterday in Muhanga district, Dr Kim, on a two-day official visit to Rwanda, said it is an exciting practice made possible in Rwanda.
“It is the first time in World history to use such drones in distributing medical needs,” he said.
He explained that many countries face the challenge of availing blood under emergency circumstances to patients, hailing the project for distributing blood and other required materials to hospitals in no more than 50 minutes.
The Minister of Health, Dr Diane Gashumba said that drones have reduced life risks for people in need of blood since they were launched in Rwanda.
“For long, Rwanda has been recognizing the importance of technology in transforming the delivery of health services. Introducing drones is one of the government’s initiatives to improve health services delivery,” she said.
“Blood transfusion is vital and saves lives especially for mothers exposed to bleeding risks after delivery. There are more ailments that cause blood loss and kill many people. The first benefit that comes with the drones is reducing the time span to deliver blood. Before, it would take between two and four hours which has reduced to 15 or 40 minutes with the introduction of drones,” she added.
Dr. Gashumba explained that the government is holding talks with Zipline to expand the project.
“We want to expand the project to other regions of the country because the current project is delivering blood to two sites only. We want it to cover 21 sites and analyzing more materials that drones can carry,” she said.
She pointed out sterilization tools and medicines for people bitten by snakes among others.
The ministry shall also carry out a joint research with Zipline to identify breakthroughs on how drones supported delivery of emergency services in the health sector.