Zipline drones to transport drugs to cancer patients

By Elina Jonas Ruzindaza
On 27 April 2020 at 02:11

Drones, which are commonly used to transport blood and drugs at various hospitals in Rwanda, are being used to deliver pills and other medicines to cancer patients in this stay home period.

Cancer patients used to go to Butaro Hospital in Burera District for treatment. This, however, is no longer possible due to Coronavirus prevention measures.

In partnership with Partners in Health, a Zipline company that has Drones for medical and blood transport, cancer patients are easily getting their medicine they taken them from the nearby hospital.

Zipline’s co-ordinator and the Ministry of Health and other partners, Tuyishimire Jean d’Amour, told IGIHE that they had been taking pills and other drugs for cancer patients for three weeks so far.

"There are hospitals that we are already working with and they are close to where the patients are. What we are doing is that the medicine is available at our headquarters in Kayonza or Muhanga, depending on the patient’s location, and then we talk to the hospital where the patient may be living nearby,” she said.

Tuyishimire said they have information about the patient’s location whether the region, the sector, then look at the nearest hospital and talk to them about the patient’s arrival because it is emergency medicine, he or she arrives at the hospital they call Zipline they send it and the patients get drugs immediately.

"Medications are being sent to patients through nearby hospitals," she said.

Zipline has so far sent medication to 27 patients at various hospitals including those in Kibuye, Kibungo, and elsewhere. This process continues until the homestay process is completed.

Tuyishimire goes on to say that the program has many benefits including making it easier and easier for patients to get medication, depending on how long they have been on treatment.

“As a patient from Ngarama in Gatsibo to Butaro, it is not a close place. Patients have been calling us for days and telling us that sometimes they could go and sleep and come back the next day”.

Cancer patients who are on medication when they are prevented can be affected. “Nowadays if we didn’t use Drones there would be a lot of patients who would be in a bad situation because of not getting those drugs,” Tuyishimire said.

In addition to using Drones to help cancer patients, some of the rest are being sent by ambulance to take them from their homes for treatment in Butaro.

A system has also been set up at Kanombe Military Hospital to treat cancer patients from Eastern Province and Kigali City. To reach them, with the help of Partners in Health, vehicles have been set up to take them from their homes, while the rest of the provinces are being treated in Butaro.

So far Partners in Health has been very supportive of the program as seven vehicles have been donated, in collaboration with the Rwanda National Police and the Ministry of Health.

The management of Butaro Hospital recently said that they have over 400 cancer patients going for treatment.

In addition to using Drones to help cancer patients, some of the rest are being sent by ambulance to take them from their homes for treatment in Butaro.