The state government is pleased with its medical drone initiative, which has so far delivered nearly 700kg of medicines since it was launched last year.
The government had touted drones as the solution to the remoteness of certain villages or for villages cut off by natural disasters but requiring medical services.
More than 150 flights have been undertaken since October. Besides delivering medicines, the drones have also been utilised in transporting blood and other samples for testing.
Speaking about the project to reporters, Health Secretary Ramkumar S said that the government has 11 landing pads as of now but wants to increase this to 25. It also aims to create at least three new “drone stations”; currently there is only one in Jengjal, West Garo Hills.
However, there have been challenges, with one of the biggest being restrictions on where drones can be flown.
The state is divided into three zones – green, yellow and red. In green zones, drones can fly without permission being required whereas, in yellow zones, permission has to be taken to fly drones. However, the state also has several red zones, where drones are prohibited, especially along the long international border with Bangladesh and the government is unable to deliver medicines here. The Meghalaya government is currently negotiating with the central government over this.
Other issues include a shortfall in the number of landing pads and bad weather. The government wants to develop more landing zones. On the weather front, these drones can fly in slight drizzle but not during heavy rain. However, drones are becoming advanced with each passing day and in future they should be able to overcome weather-related challenges.
Ramkumar said that the public being served by these drones has taken to them willingly, as they can cut wait times drastically when it comes to securing medicines or getting blood samples tested.
Leave a Reply