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Mozambique: National Health Institute Launches Drone Project

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Mozambique: National Health Institute Launches Drone Project

Maputo – Mozambique’s National Health Institute launched Friday the second phase in a study about drones for transporting medical equipment and samples to remote locations.

Under the project, the drones will deliver tests, vaccines, and other emergency supplies to hard to reach health facilities with the return flights bringing back samples for testing for infectious diseases such as Covid-19, tuberculosis, and HIV.

The project will be carried out in Inhambane’s southern province in partnership with the INS and Swoop Aero logistics specialists, as well as VillageReach, a non-governmental organization.

According to Sofia Viegas (National Director of Public Health Laboratories at the INS), “With this study we hope to achieve pleasing results to increase the efficiency of the national healthcare system, in regard to care for the population in difficult-to-access areas”.

She added that the first phase of the study showed promising results regarding the safety and feasibility of using drones for transporting samples of Covid-19 and tuberculosis.

In the second phase of this project, laboratory samples will be taken daily to enable faster diagnosis and treatment. About 100,000 people are expected to benefit directly from the project.

VillageReach Country Director Rotafina Donco pointed out that “the drones offer progress in epidemiological disease surveillance and early detection of outbreaks. This is especially crucial for the most remote communities. This also allows for more equitable access for quick diagnosis and treatment of rural residents, fulfilling the promise that primary healthcare services will be available for everyone.

The Drones for Health program in Inhambane is part of a multiphase plan to establish routine drone operations throughout Mozambique. The first phase took place in Maputo province between 2018 and 2020 during which 140 laboratory samples of Covid-19 were transported with a total airtime of ten hours. It was shown that drone transportation does not affect the quality of lab samples as compared with ground transport.

Initiated in 1975, in Mozambican independence year, the INS manages, regulates, and inspects all activities related to the production of scientific evidence within the health sector.

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