Regularly scheduled flights carrying antiretroviral therapies (ARTs) for the treatment of HIV are commencing in the region, which has the highest prevalence of HIV in the nation. Uganda has made significant strides in reducing the burden of HIV over the past decade, but the Kalangala District has continued to report high rates of new cases and access to treatment remains inaccessible for many.
The island geography of the region makes the delivery of healthcare difficult, as travel is possible only by boat and is inefficient, unreliable and potentially dangerous for the healthcare workers who journey from island to island to provide care. The medical drones will help overcome these challenges by serving remote landing sites in Bufumira sub-county, reaching and delivering ARTs to approximately 1,000 people living with HIV/AIDS.
Giving people in remote areas access to treatments
“Closing the last mile of delivery and ensuring that people living in remote communities have equitable access to modern treatments for HIV is one of the most significant challenges in global health and in Uganda,” said Andrew Kambugu, Executive Director of the Infectious Diseases Institute. “Medical drones can help solve this challenge by safely and reliably delivering lifesaving medications, thereby empowering frontline healthcare workers to allocate more time and resources to performing other essential services, resulting in healthier and more resilient communities.”
Reliable delivery of medications and continuity of care are especially important in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the World Health Organization and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV / AIDS have warned of the significant risks of not continuing to provide essential HIV services even as Covid-19 continues to spread. Innovative new solutions, like medical drones, are needed to meet this challenge and ensure that the world’s hard-won gains against HIV and other global health challenges are protected.
Meanwhile, the new Revector Detector Drone is an unmanned aerial vehicle with a mobile phone base station attached that can fly over hard-to-reach areas in the aftermath of natural disasters or accidents and locate survivors through their mobile phones.