A team of ten engineers have been building and testing of medical drones (multi copter and fixed wing) to deliver packages of medicine in remote areas of Nepal. The project is in its final stage now. Permission from the government to use the drone has been received. The software part has been done. They have built two quad-copters, one octa-copter and six fixed wing drones for the testing. The final field testing will be completed by the end of December 2018 in Makawanpur and Myagdi.It is hoped to implement the first drone for delivering medicine in January 2019 in Myagdi district. The next step will be to upgrade the drones and develop hybrid drone that can fly like helicopter and fixed wing plane.
Nepal is a beautiful mountainous country with never ending woes of roads linking the population scattered across the vast hilly regions. Most areas seem to have a form of road which becomes the only link connecting the rural folks to the nearest towns. due to geography the roads which take shape in most places, vanish into the landslides and treacherous tracks during monsoon. Even a distance of 20 kilometers , takes more than four tiring hours. Health facilities are like amenities in most parts of Nepal giving a ride in a small four wheeler to the health post/ clinic in a town nearby. The trip to a nearest health post becomes nightmare as the four wheeler scrambles over the slippery tracks. The mud tracks without proper drainage facility, give away to the rain and become muddy puddles and isolate the entire villages for weeks. Medical emergency in such instances, takes toll on the people as they cannot get proper treatment or access to medicines. In such emergency cases , the life of a patient depends on having some medicines on demand at remote or isolated health posts.
A possible solution
Airlifting using helicopters, is a fairly common practice during medical emergency in rural areas of Nepal. The process is expensive and also depends on weather conditions both at the remote villages as well as the local airports. This is further limited by the number of helicopter operators and their air vehicles in Nepal. Our offer is the medical delivery planes- MDP , which would operate from a health post with good access to supplies and deliver on demand medicines to scattered health posts at remote locations. The central healthpost would serve as a base station supplying emergency / regular medicine packages to healthposts witin a 20-25 Km radius. We envision a network of such base stations serving the mountainous regions all round the country. The MDPs would carry a medical payload of around 1Kg from the base healthpost , fly to the remote healthpost and drop the package using parachute. The MDP would then return to the base station and land. There it would be recharged and made ready for next delivery. Thus the MDP would maintain a good supply of critical medicines in healthposts of areas with limited or no road access.
Our system is very much inspired by the medical drones developed by Zipline. We intend to design and develop all the parts excluding electronic components within our country. We hope to make a MDP keeping the cost low and at the same time making an opportunity to keep a sustainable manufacturing unit in our country. The navigation software would be developed in house. This would be the basis for managing the MDP flight deliveries. A logistics unit would be setup to make provisions for all the possible medical supplies in the base health posts. Logistics management software would be developed by the in house unit as well.
Dhilung Kirat Rai
Mechanical Fabrication Mentor