Innovation That Matters

| Photo source Dove Air

Drones enable speedy delivery of medical supplies

Health & Wellbeing

One startup uses drones to bring life-saving medicines to rural communities

Spotted: The 2023 joint report on universal health care from the World Health Organization and the World Bank Group revealed that around half of the world’s population (4.5 billion people) are not covered by essential health services. Very little has changed since 2015, making it unlikely that the goal of universal health coverage set out in United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 3 will be met by 2030. 

In some African countries, many communities have little to no access to doctors and clinics, with some researchers estimating that the continent experiences almost a quarter of the world’s disease burden, yet only has around three per cent of its doctors. For rural regions, the distance that people and medicines must travel creates significant challenges with both the time and cost of delivering care. South African drone expert Dove Air is countering this with autonomous drone delivery of medicines and medical supplies.  

Dove Air manages centralised storage and distribution points, with each location safely storing medicines and supplies – like vaccines and blood donations – and providing a base for the drones. The devices are all-electric and emissions-free.

Clinics and hospitals in urgent need of supplies order online, and a Dove team packs a drone within minutes. A journey that takes four hours by a standard vehicle is reduced to five minutes by drone. The fully autonomous craft deliver supplies via parachute and are designed to automatically return to base should any loss of navigation or power occur. After each delivery, the drones return to the central location for their next outing. 

The company’s fleet works around the clock in almost all weather conditions. And, as well as being able to carry up to six different packages on one flight, the drones are also able to fly for up to eight hours at a time. 

Springwise has spotted other technologies making healthcare more accessible, including a connected ambulance that supports EMTs in providing emergency care, and smart lockers that enable patients to pick up repeat prescriptions in minutes.

Written By: Keely Khoury




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