Medical Drones Bring Healthcare to the Himalayas

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Thousands of people living in remote areas of Nepal have no access to healthcare facilities, and many of those people must therefore walk or be carried long distances if they become sick or injured. As of today, Nepal has about 2,600 doctors—that is less than one doctor for every 10,000 people, and many of the urgent treatment facilities lack basic medicine and supplies since deliveries of these items often takes months. This is why, former teacher, Mahabir Pun, developed a scheme to connect remote villages to the Internet, and, subsequently used his non-profit National Innovation Centre (NIC) has developed Nepal’s first “medical drone” to bring health care to remote communities. These medical drones carry samples of blood and other fluids to laboratories for tests and can also deliver supplies. However, presently, the medical drone can only carry a one kilogram (or two pound) payload for about two kilometers (or 1.2 miles). Pun’s team is working on improving that range and weight capacity. The internet connection was an important lifeline for villages with no road access or cell phone reception, and this new medical drone is certainly another important lifeline. Of course, this project is slightly limited by Nepal’s regulations on drone use, but Pun is working with the country’s officials to make his project a success.

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