ICMR’s i-Drone will be implemented in Manipur and Nagaland, as well as the Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Island
Mansukh Mandaviya, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare launched ICMR’s Drone Response and Outreach in North East (i-Drone). This is a delivery model to make sure that life-saving vaccines reach everyone.
Mandaviya said, “This is for the first time that a Make in India drone has been used in South Asia to transport COVID vaccine over an aerial distance of 15 kilometres in 12-15 mins from the Bishnupur district hospital to Loktak lake, Karang island in Manipur for administration at the PHC. The actual road distance between these locations is 26 kilometres. Today, 10 beneficiaries will receive the first dose and eight will receive the second dose at the PHC.”
He further added, “India is home to geographical diversities and drones can be used to deliver essentials to the last mile. We can use drones in delivering important life-saving medicines, collecting blood samples. This technology can also be used in critical situations. This technology may prove a game-changer in addressing the challenges in health care delivery, particularly health supplies in difficult areas.”
He further mentioned, “I strongly believe that this initiative will further help us achieve the highest possible immunization coverage for COVID-19. Incorporating such drone technologies into the national programs would help deliver other vaccines and medical supplies as quickly as possible.”
The i-Drone has been designed to overcome these challenges by deploying Unmanned Aerial vehicles (UAV) / drones to remote areas and hard to reach terrains. Currently, the drone-based delivery project has been granted permission for implementation in Manipur and Nagaland, as well as the Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Island.
ICMR conducted an initial study in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur to test the capacity of drones to carry and transfer vaccines safely. The study was conducted in Manipur, Nagaland and Andaman and Nicobar. These studies provided promising results on the basis of which the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA), Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and other regulatory authorities have granted permission to fly drones beyond the Visual Line Of Sight.