Agnes Hamisi, one of the drones instructor at MUST
* To address challenges of service delivery delays in hard-to-reach areas
* The system will be enable them to move drugs from source and deliver them to various hospitals
By Victor Singano Jnr, Correspondent
Ministry of Health (MoH), in conjunction with Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST) — with support from UNICEF — will soon rollout into drones services in the health sector to strengthen supply chain management to improve its service delivery.
Speaking during the opening ceremony of a three-day drone delivery training on Wednesday at MUST campus at Goliati in Thyolo, the Ministry’s director of health technical support services, Godfrey Kadewere highlighted that as one way of dealing with challenges facing health sector in the country — which delays its service delivery in hard-to-reach areas — they have decided to introduce drones.
He said this system will be enable them to move drugs from source and deliver them to various hospitals.
Kadewere admitted that for a long time, health sector has been finding it difficult to supply medical equipments on time to all the hospitals due to a number of factors, which include poor roads, long distances, car breakdowns — which was contributing to the increase of deaths from curable diseases.
“During this training, we want to promote awareness on drones and how they are used in order to show our commitment to development partners that we are indeed ready to rollout effective health services delivery using drones.
“This is why we’ve invited all the departments that are working in health areas so that no one should left behind on this good initiative.
“Currently, we are on a pilot stage and we are going for rollout to make it part and parcel of how we do supply chain management using the equipment.
“We are hopeful that health services delivery will be improved because drones are much faster than a car. For instance, a drone can only cover within 2 hours of a distance which a car can take 4 hours,” Kadewere said.
Chikondi Chisega, project coordinator for African Drone Data Academy (ADDA), said the training will be a platform where donors, partners as well as Ministries and Government departments and all players will list their needs that might need an assistance from ADDA before they establish centre of excellence in drone academy.
In partnership with ADDA, MUST) equips youths with knowledge and skills on various aspects of drone operations — including its manufacturing, flying and research.
The ADDA is carrying out this training in 23 African countries through partnership with UNICEF and US-based Virginia Tech and Furham Universities.
In Malawi, ADDA operates from Lilongwe and it partnered with MUST to take advantage of technology skills that the Thyolo-based university imparts on Malawian youths, most of whom are not its own intake.